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THE UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

LIBRARY 




THE WILMER COLLECTION 

OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS 

PRESENTED BY 

RICHARD H. WILMER, JR. 




^iLMEa COLLECT! 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2009 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/storyofdonmiffasOOdabn 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 



AS TOLD BY HIS FRIEND 



JOHN BOUCHE WHACKER. 



A SYMPHONY OF LIFE. 



EDITED BY 

yiEGINIUS DABNEY. 



Tekvov, tl K^aieig ; n di ae (jfpivac lketo ttevOoc ; 
'E^avda, firj KEvde voco, Iva eldojiev ufi^u. 

Iliad, i. 362-63. 

Child, why dost thou weep ? What grief hath come upon thy spirit? 
Speak — conceal it not — so that we both may know. 



PHIIiADEIiPHIA: 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY. 

1886. 



Copyright, 1886, by Vikginius Dabney. 




PEEFAOE. 



It is pretty well understood, I presume, that while 
books are written for the entertainment of the public, 
a preface has fulfilled its mission if it prove a solace 
to the author and an edification to the proof-reader 
thereof. Yet (however it may be with an author) an 
editor must, it seems, write one. 

Most mysteriousl}^, then, and I knew not whence or 
from whom, the manuscript of this work found itself 
in my study, some time since, accompanied by the re- 
quest that 1 should stand sponsor for it. 

I shall do nothing of the kind. True, the grammar 
of it will pass muster, I think ; and its morals are above 
reproach ; but the way our author has of sailing into 
everything and everybody quite takes my breath away. 
Lawyers, military men, professors and students, par- 
sons, agnostics, statesmen, billiard-players, novelists, 
poetesses, saints and sinners — he girds at them all. I 
should not have a friend left in the world were it to 
go abroad that this Mr. J. B. Whacker's opinions were 
also mine. If but to enter this disclaimer, therefore, I 
must needs write a preface. 

This author of ours, then, is, as you shall find, an 
actor in the scenes he describes, and is quite welcome 
to any sentiments he may see fit to put into his own 
mouth. He entertains, I am free to admit, an unusual 
number of opinions; more than one man's share, per- 
haps ; but not one of them is either reader or editor 
called upon to adopt. 

It seems fair, too, to warn the eccentric person who 
shall read this preface, against putting too much faith 
in the account Mr. Whacker gives of himself The as- 

8 

602796 



4 PREFACE. 

tounding pedigree to which he lays claim in Chapter I. 
may be satire, for aught I know ; but when he poses 
as a lawyer, a bachelor, and a ton of a man, weighing 
(though he does not give the exact figures) not much 
less than three hundred pounds, he is counting too 
much on the simplicity of his editor. For the internal 
evidence of the work itself makes it clear that he is a 
physician, ever so much married, and nestling amid 
a very grove of olive branches. He assures us, too, 
for example (he is never tired of assuring us of some- 
thing), that he is entirely ignorant of music ; yet divides 
his work not into books (as a Christian should), but 
into movements ; indicating (presumably) the spirit and 
predominant feeling of each by the opening page of the 
orchestral score of one of the four numbers of a famous 
symphony ! 

One more word and I am done. 

Our author has not seen fit to make any reply to the 
incessant, and still unceasing onslaughts, from pen and 
pencil alike, to which the South has submitted, and 
still submits, twenty-one years after Appomattox, with 
a silence that has been as grand as it is unparalleled. 

His only revenge has been to paint his people and 
the lives they led. 

But it seems to me best to say, once for all, that 
whenever the necessities of the narrative compel him 
to show his sympathies on one side or the other (as 
happens two or three times in the course of the story), 
they will be found to be with those people among whom 
he was born, by whose side he fought, and with whom he 
has suffered. And I feel sure that no man who knows 
me, in the South, and equally sure that no man who 
knows me, in the North, w^ould deem me capable of 
printing this book, had it been otherwise. 

y. DABNEY, 

108 West Fortv-ninth Street, 
April, 1886. Neav York. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 



CHAPTER I. 



1. 

Long, long years before these pages shall meet thine 
almond eye, my Ah Yung Whack, the hand which 
penned them for thy delectation will have crumbled 
into dust. Three hundred years and more, let us say ; 
for thou art (or shalt in due time be) my great-great- 
great-great-great-great - great - great - great-great-grand- 
son. 

s. 

True, I am not yet married; but I intend to be. 
'Nor is there any need of hurry ; seeing what a singu- 
larly distant and belated relative thou art. 

3. 

If then, dear, intended Offspring, you will be so an- 
achronistic as to sit beside your proposed ancestor, and 
so civil as to lend him your ear, he will give you one 
or two reasons for addressing you, rather than the 
general public of his own day. 

4. 

First, then, humanity. 

This poor public of his (that is my) day has been, 
these many years, so pelted with books, that I cannot 
bring myself to join the mob of authors, and let fly 
another. 

The very leaves in Yallambrosa, flying before the 
blasts of autumn, cannot compare with them in num- 
bers, as they go whizzing from innumerable presses. 

1* 5 



6 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Why, I read, the other day, a statement (by a stater) 
that if you were to set up, in rows, all the books that 
are annually published in Christendom (beg pardon, my 
boy, evolutiondom), and then fell to sawing out shelves 
for them in the pine forests of North Carolina, the 
ISTorth Carolinians would, when they awoke, find them- 
selves inhabitants of a prairie, provided, of course, our 
stater goes on to state, the job were completed in one 
night. 

Or, to put it in another shape: 

The earth, adds Mr. Statisticker, the earth, we will 
allow, for illustration's sake, to be twentj'-five thousand 
miles around. Now, says he, suppose all these books 
to be pulled to pieces [shame!] and their leaves pinned 
together, end to end, they would stretch ever so (for I 
cannot, at the moment, lay my hands on his little sta- 
tistic) they would stretch ever so far. 

Shall I add to the already unbearable burdens of my 
generation ? Humanity forbid I 

s. 

And look at this ; 

In any given country a certain number of under- 
garments will be worn out, year by year, producing a 
certain crop of rags. These rags can'be converted into 
so much, and no more, paper. Hence, as any thinking 
man would have reasoned (until the advent of a recent 
invention), the advancing flood of literature was prac- 
tically held in check. So many exhausted shirts, so 
many books, — so many exhausted washerwomen, so 
many (and no more) authors. There was a limit. 

That day is gone. Wood-pulp and cheap editions 
have opened the flood-gates of genius upon the world ; 
and the days of our noble forests are numbered; for 
one tree is sawn into shelves to hold another ground 
into paper. And already, through the denudation of the 
land, the Mississippi grows uncontrollable, taxing even 
the wisdom of Congress. And many a lesser stream, 
in which once the salmon sported, or which turned a 
mill, or meandered, at least, past orchard or corn land, 
a steady source of fruitful moisture, is now a fierce tor- 



^% 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 7 

rent in spring, in autumn a string of stagnant pools. 
What the builder began, the builder (for that, I hear, is 
the Greek for him) and the novelist will end. 
Shall I too print a book ? Patriotism forbid I 

6. 

The trouble is, however, that I feel that I have some- 
thing to say, and a man that has something to say, and 
is not allowed to say it, is (like a woman or a boiler) in 
danger. Nor has my native land, when I come to think 
of it, the right to exact of me that I burst, to save a 
beggarly sapling or so from pulpification. 



Tes, I have something to say, and I'll out with it. 
For I have hit upon a plan whereby I can print my 
book with the merest infinitesimal damage to the Mis- 
sissippi and other patriotic streams. It is this. I shall 
have but one copy printed. This, in a strong box, her- 
metically sealed, shall be addressed to you. I shall 
hand it to my eldest son, and he to his ; and so it will 
travel down the stream of time till it reach you ; which 
strikes me as a neat, inexpensive, and effectual way of 
reaching that goal of all authors, posterity. From 
father to son, and from grandson to great-grandson. 

Provided, of course, they shall all have the courage 
(as I intend to have) to get married. If not — or what 
would become of the book, should there be twins? — 
but I leave these details to take care of themselves. 
One of them might not live, for example. 

On second thought, though, it might be as well to 
have tw^o copies struck off; yes, and while we are 
about it, a dozen extra ones, for private distribution 
among my friends. 

8. 

And one friend, especially, but for whom this non- 
sense would not now be bubbling up so serenely from 
my tranquil soul. 

9. 

I have just had a conversation with my publisher, 
which greatly disturbs me. 



8 THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 

He tells me that all this talk about limiting the 
edition to a dozen copies is midsummer madness, — where 
am I to come in ? said he, using the language of the 
period, — and that he intends to print as many copies as 
he pleases. So everything is upset. And I shall have 
to recast my entire work, which, you must know, is 
already, with the exception of this first chapter, fin- 
ished and ready for the printer, down to the last semi- 
colon. For, as it stands, my boy, everything I say is 
addressed to you only ; and my book may be compared 
to a telephone with a private wire three hundred years 
long. But since my publisher is going to give the gen- 
eral public the right to hook on and hear what 1 am 
saying, it is extremely probable that my monologue 
will be very often interrupted. Whenever, therefore, 
you find me suddenly ceasing to speak to jou. person- 
ally, and, after a w^ord with my contemporaries, drop- 
ping back to our private wire, you may be sure that 
there has been a " Hello ?" and a " Who's that?" and a 
'' Well, good-by !" somewhere along a cross-line. 

lO. 
And this is the thing that I feel that I have to say : 
I would tell you something of the land of your fore- 
fathers. Something of Virginia. Not new Virginia, — 
not West Virginia, — but the Old Dominion and her peo- 
ple, such as they were when Plancus was consul. And, 
first of all, I will tell you why I have thought it worth 
while to lay the following sketches before you. 

11. 

The world, in my day, is full of unrest. Everywhere 
anxious care and the eager struggle for wealth. Mr. 
Spencer's Gospel of Eecreation finds few adherents, and 
the Genius of Kepose seems to have winged its way to 
other spheres. 

And I fear matters will be worse in your day ; and, 
just as one, on a broiling July afternoon, looks with a 
real, though evanescent, pleasure upon pictured polar 
bears gambolling amid icebergs (in the show-window 
of a soda-water shop), so I cannot but think that it 



THE STORY OF DON, MIFF, 9 

would be a genuine boon to you could I but lead you 
for an hour from out the dust and heat and turmoil of 
your life and bid you cease striving for a little while, 
while I- (I, too, forgetting for a moment that every 
crust must be fought for), while I reproduce from out 
the cool caves of my memory certain scenes that I have 
witnessed. 

True, some of them I have not seen with my own 
eyes, but Charley has, or else Alice, which is just as 
well. 

12. 

Yes, my lad, I think the glimpses I am about to give 
you of the old Virginia life will refresh your tired soul. 
Just as it refreshes mine to draw the pictures for you. 
For from me, as well, the reality has vanished. Our 
civil war (war of the rebellion, as the underbred among 
the victors still call it) swept that into the abyss of the 
past ; but let me with such poor wand as I wield sum- 
mon it before you. 

In Pompeii, the tourist, looking from blank wall to 
dusty floor, wonders what there is to see in that little 
hall ; but a native goes down upon his hands and knees ; 
with a few brisk passes of his hand the sand is brushed 
away, and a Numidian lion glares forth from the tes- 
sellated pavement. So I, brushing aside the fast-settling 
dust, would make you see that old life as I saw it. 

And, strangely enough, I, too, have a lion to show 
you. For, while my real object was by a series of 
sketches to bring into clear relief the careless ease, the 
sweet tranquillity, the unapproachable serenity of those 
old days, I did not see my way to making these sketches 
interesting. (For not alone in a repast for the body is 
the serving almost everything.) But the thought 
occurred to me to stitch them together with the thread 
of a story into a kind of panorama. For this story I 
had to find a hero. To invent one would have been, I 
am sure, quite beyond my powers ; and what I should 
have done I am at a loss to conjecture had I not found 
one ready made to my hand : a very remarkable young 
man, that is, who in a very remarkable way suddenly 
made his appearance upon the boards of our little 



10 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

theatre, upon which were serenely enacting the tran- 
quil scenes in which I would steep your care-worn 
soul. This is the lion that I have to show you. And 
when he begins to shake his mane and lash his sides, 
you will find things growing a trifle lurid in our little 
impromptu drama. Absolutely none of which was upon 
the original programme. But dropping from the sky, 
as it were, in the midst of our troupe, what should he 
do but straightway fall in love with one of our pretty 
little actresses. And then the trouble began and the 
tranquillity came to an end. 

13. 

As for me, the manager of the show, you will see that 
I have done my best to relieve the gloom. Between 
the acts, — between the scenes, — nay, even while they 
are going on, — you shall find me continually popping 
out before the foot-lights and interrupting the play, 
and raking the audience with a rattling rigmarole. All 
for the sake of keeping their spirits up. And on more 
than one occasion I go the length (or breadth, as Alice 
suggests) of standing on my head and making faces at 
Charley in the prompter's box. How I should have 
gotten on had he not sat there, or without Alice in the 
wings (to superintend the love-passages), I am sure I 
cannot tell. And if, at the end of the plaj^, I am called 
before the curtain, I shall refuse to budge unless hand 
in hand with my two co-workers ] who, though content 
to be for the most part silent partners in this under- 
taking, have really put in most of the capital. 

14. 

It is understood, then, between us, Ah Yung, that 
while this story is composed for your delectation, the 
injunctions of my publisher force me to recognize the 
possibility of contemporary readers. The situation is 
awkward. As though a third person were present at 
a confidential interview. Ah, I have it. 

"While I am talking to you, the contemporary reader 
may nod ; and when I turn to her, you have leave to 
nap it. And small blame to the contemporary reader. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. H 

For what I shall say to you will seem to her (and 
especially my didactic spurts) the merest rubbish. 
Every school-boy knows that, she will say. 
But I am not to be put down by this crushing and fa- 
miliar phrase of our da}', which simply means that the 
fact in question is known to the Able-Editor, who looked 
it up in the cyclopaedia on his desk an hour since. Every 
school-boy in ancient times knew, for instance, what 
kind of a school Aristotle went to, and how he was 
taught, and what. Aspasia, we may feel sure, knew no 
German, nor had even a smattering of French; while 
all conceivable ologies were so much Greek to her. And 
yet she must have known something. For statesmen 
and philosophers flocked to her boudoir, and, when she 
spoke, sat at her feet, silent and wondering. What had 
she been taught, and how ? Every contemporary 
school-girl knew. What audience could be found now 
in the wide world that could keep pace with the elo- 
quence of Demosthenes? How had the Athenian 
populace been taught ? For they were more wonder- 
ful than their orator. Ah, how much would we not 
give to know! But no one thought it worth his while 
to set it all down in a little book ; and we know not, and 
must darkly guess. Else would we rise as one man, and, 
rushing with torches to all the colleges and universities 
of the land, incinerate within their costly walls their 
armies of professors, along with the hordes of oarsmen 
and acrobats that they annually empty on the world. 

A porch sufficed for Zeno. 

Ah, there are thousands of little things which they 
might have told us, but did not. Ah, that Homer, for 
instance, had described Helen to us as minutely as he 
did the shield of Achilles. As it is, we must even con- 
jecture that she had a Grecian nose. And as for her 
eyes and hair — 

And the song the Sirens sang, what was the tune of 
It? How much would I not have given to hear my 
dear old grandfather play it on his fiddle ! 

And how did Socrates make out without a pipe after 
dinner Avhile Xantippe was explaining to him how 
many kinds of a worthless husband he was? 



12 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Ah, we shall never know ! Therefore, my boy, I am 
determined you shall know something about the Vir- 
ginians in my day. But excuse me for one moment, 
— my telephone-bell is ringing. 

15. 

Some stranger has hooked on. 

" Hello I" 

"Do you claim that Yirginia has ever produced a 
Socrates ?" 

"Who's there?" 

"Boston." 

" I do not." 

" Ever see a Virginia Xantippe ?" 

" Well, good-by !' 

This is the way I am likely to be interrupted through- 
out the entire course of my story. True, I shall leave 
out the hello and good-by part of the business as too 
realistic, but you will know when they have been hook- 
ing on from my stopping to argue with my supposed 
readers. By the way, if this chapter bears, to your 
mind, internal evidence of having been composed in 
Bedlam, you will understand how it has fared with me 
when I tell you that I had hardly spoken a dozen words 
when my telephone began to ring like mad. A thou- 
sand cross-lines at least must have been connected with 
our private wire before my first sentence was finished. 
Heavens, what a jingling they are keeping up even 
now ! I must speak with them. 

"Hello! hello! hello! — Good-by I good-by! good- 
by!" 

And why all this clatter, do you suppose ? 

It is nearly all about these seven words in my open- 
ing sentence, — Thine almond eye^ my Ah Yung Whack. 

I shall analyze the questions and remarks of the first 
hundred as a sample of the thousands. 

Of this number, three announced themselves as au- 
thors of English grammars, adding that they could not 
sustain me unless I changed my ah to ah my ; and of 
the three, one that I should have said Virginian instead 
of Virginia Xantippe; quoting a rule from his own 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 13 

grammar. Which I was ,2:lad he did, seeing that I had 
never read a line in any English grammar in my born 
days ; and I find that when you are writing a book no 
kind of knowledge comes amiss. 

I answered him (per telephone) by this question in 
political econoraj-: whether he thought that by a judi- 
cious tariff Massachusettsish enterprise would ever be 
enabled to raise Indian rubber under glass at a profit 
and successfully compete with the pauper labor of the 
sun; and, springing nimbly from political to domestic 
economy, I trusted that his next Thanksgiving Turkish 
gobbler would sit light on his stomach. And this I 
meant, once for all, as a defiance to the whole tribe of 
grammarians, be they living, dead, or yet unborn. 

After the three grammarians come seven spelling re- 
formers, congratulating me on my courage in writing 
yuug instead of young. [How they found this out by 
tapping my telephone I will explain later, if I have 
time.] And of these, one, who was also a short-hand 
writer, thought Whack an improvement on Whacker. 

All the remainder of the hundred — that is, ninety — 
were young ladies. 

There is a certain insinuating witchery about the 
unmarried voice of woman (among males all widowers 
have it) that is not to be mistaken, even through a tele- 
phone. That is, when addressed to an unmarried ear. 

Of these ninety, every solitary one asked, " Have 
you almond eyes ?" (for young ladies can underscore, 
even over a wire), and forty-three of them added, " Oh, 
how cute!" and forty-seven, "My, how cunning!" 

And of these ninety-, eighty-nine added that, by a 
strange coincidence, they, too, were married; the re- 
maining one saying that she was single. She, I take 
it, was a young widow ; especially as she went on to 
say that she feared that I was a sad, bad, bold, fascina- 
ting wretch to speak in my half-frivolous, half-business- 
like way of the holy estate of matrimony, which had 
been commended even of St. Paul. She added that she 
had often been told that her own eyes sloped a little. 

2 



14 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

16. 

Now you, my boy, know perfectly well that you are 
called Whack. Nor will it strike you that I have re- 
formed the spelling of your Confucian name, Yung. 
As to the Ah, you will smile at its being mistaken by a 
Western barbarian for an interjection. But you do not 
know, and will be amazed to hear, that you have almond 
eyes. For you have never seen any other variety. 
This, therefore, strikes me as a fitting opportunity ibr 
explaining to you and the contemporary reader w^hy 
I began with those seven mysterious words. You, at 
least, can hardly regret their use, since it was the 
means of showing you how many candidates there 
were for the honor of being your great-great-great- 
great-great-great-great-grcat-great-great- grandmother. 
The aspirants had never seen me, it is true. So that 
Jam not puffed up. 

Puffed up ? Alas, yea, that is my trouble ! Hence my 
long delay. Woman after woman has admitted that 
my smile is sweet, my voice low, my ways winning. 

His soul is beautiful, they say; then why will he 
waddle when he walks? 

And waddling is mirth-provoking to every daughter 
of Eve, and laughter is fatal to love. 

ir. 

Not one word of the caballistic seven would I have 
written but for two very singular dreams which I had. 
And this is the way, so far as I can make out, that I 
chanced to dream the first one. 

The line of Bishop Berkeley, to the effect that the 
star of empire is constantly moving west, is naturally 
a favorite with patriots in this country. It is in every- 
body's mouth. I have heard it cited, you could not 
imagine how often ; so often, to put it plainly, that I 
would undertake to reckon up on my fingers and toes 
the number of times I have not heard it. Western 
journalists, especially, see their way to quoting it so 
frequently that they keep it always in stock, electro- 
typed and ready for use at a moment's notice (when 
a commercial traveller registers at the local hotel, for 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 15 

instance). Not a Wecldij is sot up as the organ of the 
pioneerest water-tank of a Western railway, but you 
shall see this verse figure in the first leader. Now it was 
this line which, though not the exciting cause of the 
first of my two dreams, gave direction to it, at least. 

A friend had sent me a San Francisco paper, and 
meeting the familiar line therein, I began wondering 
to myself, as I lay upon my lounge, where the star of 
empire could go now, seeing that there was no longer 
any West left ; and, reading on, half awake, after a late 
supper, and seeing in every column allusions to the 
glorious climate of California (in worn type), I asked 
myself, with a drowsy smile, whether it were not to 
reach this same glorious climate, perhaps, that the star 
in question had been bending her steps westward 
throughout recorded time. 

If she is to go any further — I dozed — I — she — will 
have — to — \\^ade — and I fell asleep ! 

18. 

How long I slept I cannot say; but long enough to 
dream this: 

Dream I. — [Welsh rarebit.] 

America, at last (so it seemed to me in my vision), 
is full ; and thousands upon thousands of our redundant 
population are pouring into Asia, — you among the rest ; 
for your day had come, — and 3^ou are all as busy as 
bees, cutting the throats of the heathen, in order to 
bring them to a true knowledge of the living God, and 
secure their lands, — as our ancestors have served the 
treacherous and implacable Eed Men. 

(When I speak of your cutting their throats, I speak 
as a man of m}- time; for it would be the veriest pre- 
sumption in a mortal of this benighted day to restrict 
heroes in the blaze of the twent3'-third century to such 
vulgar and ineffectual methods of destroying their fel- 
low-men. Indeed, I must do myself the justice to say 
that, when I ventured to dream of you as storming the 
ranges of Thian-Sban and the Kuen-Lun, into which 
have fled the deluded remnants of the followers of Con- 
fucius (of whom, at the date of this dream, you were 



16 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

not one), I did not take the liberty of picturing you 
to myself, even in a vision of the night-time, as labori- 
ously toiling up those rugged slopes, convincing, as you 
go, the unregenerate, by the unanswerable suasion of 
breech-loading cannon and repeating rifles, — lame con- 
trivances of our less-favored age ; but) 

Before my closed, yet prophetic eye, you float a 
beautiful, aerial host of missionary heroes and real-estate 
agents, flecking the sky with innumerable winged craft. 
There ! I see the line halt! A rock-bound fastness lies 
just ahead ! A captain's yacht — a kind of mechanical 
American eagle, an 'twere — darts forward through the 
limpid air, and poises itself just over the enemy, a mile 
above the earth. A field telephone drops into the for- 
tress, and a parley is held. Unsatisfactory.! for an ofiicer 
in the uniform of the Flying Chemists, leaning lighfly 
over the starboard gun^vale, lets fall into the stronghold, 
with admirable precision, a homoeopathic globule of the 
triple-refined quintessence of the double extract of dyna- 
mite. It is finished ! Peace on earth, good will toward 
men ! What was, a moment since, a heaven-piercing 
peak, is now a hole in the ground, — what were, just now, 
the adherents of an efl'ete theology, in the twinkling of 
an eye are converted, if not into Christians, at least into 
almond-eyed angels, — and the victors can read their 
title clear to mansions near the skies, and to the rice- 
fields of the Yang-tsi-Kiang, or the tea-orchards of the 
Hoang-IIo. 

I am persuaded that every fair-minded man will 
allow this to have been a dream that not even Pharaoh 
need have blushed to own. I feel that it does me 
credit. But would it have been prudent in me (as a 
professional dreamer) to see that one vision, and then, 
as we lawyers say, rest my case? Perhaps I had gone 
all astray. Who is this Bishop Berkeley, after all ? 
Have men, in their migrations, always followed the 
sun ? Who destroyed the Mound-Builders ? and 
whence came they? and their destroyers? from the 
East? or from the West? 

To certain insects, which live but a single day, the 
winds may very well seem to blow always in one direc- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 17 

tion ; and there may be in the affairs of men a tide 
which ebbs and flows in aeons rather than in hours. 
And what is the meaning of this cloud-speck rising 
along the Pacific coast? Is the nineteenth century, so 
remarkable in many respects (for instance, brag), to 
usher in an era as 3-et unsuspected ? Is the tide trem- 
bling at its utmost flood, — and is the reflux upon us? 
Are the " lower orders" the real prophets, as they have 
ever been before? And is their animosity against the 
Chinese but a blind feeling of the truth that in these 
new-comers the European races have met their mas- 
ters ? Can it be that under the contempt expressed for 
them as inferiors there lurks a secret, unrealized sense 
of their real superiority? 

For wherein do we surpass the Indian whom we are 
so rapidly supplanting? In two things: endurance 
under toil and strength to hoard, — industry and self- 
denial. By force of these traits we have driven the 
Bed Men from their homes. And now, on the Pacific, 
we meet a race as superior to us in these qualities as 
we are to the Indian or the negro. 

Obviously, therefore, if I would get at the bottom of 
the business, it behooved me to see another vision. It 
was not long in coming. The very next day a party 
of us jurists had luncheon together, and I ate, of all 
things in the world — 

Well, returning to my ofllce, I threw myself upon 
my lounge, and took up a law-book, stood it upon the 
bosom of my shirt, and opened it at the Rule in Shel- 
ley's Case. If a man have nothing on his conscience, 
this justly celebrated rule will put him to sleep in ten 
minutes. 

19. 

Before I lay down, therefore, I locked my door ; for 
the spectacle of a sleeping lawyer must ever be a pain- 
ful surprise to a client. 

Dream II. — [Canned lobster.] 

Presently I heard a gentle rap. " Come in," said I. 
And in there stalked a most surprising figure. 

!N^ow, if I had had my wits about me, I should have 
known it was a dream; for how could he have gotten 
b 2* 



18 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

in with the door locked ? So I suppose I must have 
dreamed that it was not a dream. At any rate, there 
he was. A Chinaman, — but tall, athletic, and gor- 
geously arrayed in brocaded silks. A low bow, full of 
grace and dignity. I rose hastily, without either the 
one or the other. 

"Ah Ying Kee," said he, with another bow, at the 
same time lightly touching his left breast with the tips 
of the fingers of his right hand. 

" Be seated, Mr. Kee," said I, offering him a chair. 

" Thanks : I have the honor of addressing: Mr. Yanor 
Kee?" ^ 

The afternoon was furiously hot. My man had the 
chest and neck of Hercules. So I contented myself 
with the haughty reply that my name was Whacker. 

"No doubt, — no doubt," replied he, with a courteous 
wave of the hand. " In a general way you are quite 
right; but for the special purpose of my visit permit 
me to insist that you are Mr. Yang Kee." 

It flashed across my mind that I was dealing with a 
large lunatic, and my anger cooled. 

" Yery well," said I, " if you will have it so. I was 
never called a Yankee before, that's all." 

" J^o doubt ; nor have you the least idea that you are 
one. Still, I venture to remark — with your kind per- 
mission — that such is practically the fact. To your 
eye and ear there are differences between your people 
and those of Connecticut, just as I have no difficulty in 
distinguishing an inhabitant of the district of Hing 
Chang from a dweller on the banks of the Fi Fum. 
To you we are all Chinese. To us, Americans are all 
Yankees. Orientals, occidentals. Let Ying Kee stand 
for the one, Yang Kee for the other." 

" You don't say Melican man ?" 

" No ; I am not a washerwoman," replied he, with 
a smile. "I am a member of the imperial diplomatic 
corps, and, if you will permit me to say so, a gentle- 
man." 

I gave him to understand that he was more than 
welcome. (He was six feet two, if he was an inch.) 

" Thanks. But my object in calling — " 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 19 

My retainer would be a stiff one, never fear — 

" I call, not as a diplomat, but as a philosopher." 

I sighed the sigh of a jurisconsult. 

" I come to discuss with you a dream which I under- 
stand 3'ou have done us Chinese the honor to dream 
about us." 

I had not mentioned my dream to a soul. How had 
he heard of it ? I never once dreamt that 1 was dream- 
ing again. 

" You, too, I understand, are a philosopher, — the 
greatest philosopher, if common fame may be relied on, 
throughout the length and breadth — " 

I gave my hand a deprecatory wave. " Don't men- 
tion it," said I. 

" Throughout the length and breadth of Henrico 
County, — Hanraker, as the natives call it." 

"You are strong on geography." 

" It is made my business by my government to know 
America. But let's to our discussion. But is not your 
office rather close quarters? Might I beg you to walk 
with me ?" 

" Where shall we go?" I asked, when we reached the 
sidewalk. 

" What do you say to Eocketts ?" 

"Eocketts!" I exclaimed; "you are strong on geog- 
raphy !" 

" Eocketts ?" said he, with a bland smile ; " who does 
not know that it is the port of Eichmond, just as the 
Pir^us was that of Athens ?" 

I cannot imagine why I put all these fine phrases in 
his mouth, unless it was because I had read in the 
papers, nt)t long before, that the Parisians pronounced 
the manners of the Chinese embassy perfect. 

And here I may remark, for the benefit of science, 
that though the thermometer was at ninety in the 
shade, I was not conscious of the heat during our long 
walk. Yet — and it shows that it costs a fat man some- 
thing even to dream of toil — yet, when I awoke, my 
brow looked as though I had been earning my bread, 
whereas a lawyer, as we know, confines himself to earn- 
ing some other fellow's. 



20 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" And now, Mr. Yang Kee," said he, as we took our 
seats in a corner of the docks of the Old Dominion Line, 
" and now for this very remarkable dream of yours ; 
and permit me to begin by observing that, the central 
conception of your dream being vicious, the whole busi- 
ness falls to pieces." 

I threw my eyebrows into the form of a couple of 
interrogation-points. 

" You have been at the pains of dreaming that your 
people are to conquer mine through the instrumen- 
tality of armed colonization. Those days, when entire 
nations — men, women, and children — migrated, sword 
in hand, are over. Instead of migration we have emi- 
gration, — the movement of individuals instead of the 
movement of tribes ; in place of the Helvetii — " 

''Mr. Kee, your learning amazes me!" 

" It's all in Confucius," said he, modestly. " Instead 
of the Helvetii devastating G-aul, the Swiss waiter lies 
in ambush ao;ainst the small chancre of Christendom. 
It is no longer warrior against warrior, but man against 
man. It is not a question of — " 

Mr. Kee hesitated, and a subtle smile played over 
his features. 

" Go on," said I. 

" These are the days, I was going to say, of the sur- 
vival of the fittest, rather than the fightest." 

"Go it, Ying!" cried I; at the same time fetching 
him a rouser between the shoulders with my rather 
heavy hand. In my enthusiasm I had forgotten his 
high rank. I began to stammer out an apolog}^. 

" It is nothing," said he. " It makes me know that 
you are a good fellow," added he, at the same time 
shaking hands with himself, after the manner of his 
people, with the utmost cordiality. 

I do not suppose that a native ever puns without a 
certain sense of shame ; but I confess to enjoying it in 
a foreigner. He is always as proud as a boy whistling 
his first tune. 

" A Caucasian army is vastly superior to a Mongolian ; 
a Caucasian individual vastly inferior." 

I smiled. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 21 

" Oh," said he, " I know what your politicians say ; 
and I find no fault with them, for they make their 
living by saying — judicious things. The Chinaman 
works for nothing and lives upon rice, so that a decent 
American working-man cannot compete with him. 
Moreover, he persists in returning to China. He won't 
stay, therefore he must go. Moreover, a Celestial is a 
heathen, while you, dear voters, are all pious and good !" 

As he said this, accompanying the remark with a 
wink of Oriental subtlety, we both, with a common im- 
pulse, burst into a laugh so loud that a large rat, which 
we had observed as he cautiously stole up towards 
a broken Qgg which lay upon the dock, precipitately 
scampered off and down into his hole. 

" Oh, I don't blame your statesmen. They, just as 
others, have a trade by which wives and children must 
be fed and clothed. Moreover," — and leaning forward 
and confidentially tapping my round and shapely knee 
with his yellow hand, he whispered, — " moreover, your 
statesmen are right!" and, straightening up, he paused, 
enjoj^ing my surprise. " The sentimentality of Poca- 
hontas," he resumed, with a wave of his hand in the 
direction of Jamestown, " was the ruin of her people. 
Opecancanough was a prophet and a statesman. Had the 
Indians slain the Europeans as fast as they landed — " 

Just then the rat thrust his sharp muzzle out of his 
hiding-place and warily swept the dock with his jet- 
bead eye. Mr. Kee turned upon him his almond oval 
and smiled. 

"I thank thee, good rat," he cried; "for thou art 
both an illustration and a prophecy. Hundreds of 
years ago, the blue rat held sway on this continent, while 
you squeaked unknown in the mountains of Persia." 

" 'Tis a J^orway rat," I put in. 

"No," said he, quietly, " he is of Persian origin, and 
migrated to China ages ago, during the reign, to be 
exact, of Ying Lung Fo. You will find it laid down in 
Confucius, in his great work, ' Bang Lie Yu,' — concern- 
ing all things, as you would say in English." 

I wonder whether he likes them best broiled or 
fricasseed ? thouo-ht I. 



22 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" The real Norway rat is little lari^er than a field- 
mouse. Your term Norway rat is siinpl}^ a popular 
corruption of gnaw-away rat, given him as the most 
strikingly rodential of rodents." 

" To be found, I suppose," said I, " in Confucius's 
lesser work, ' Fool Hoo Yu,' or, concerning a few other 
things^ as we say in English." 

" You have me there !" rejilied be, with the most 
winkisb of winks. "But we digress. Where is the 
blue rat now? Perhaps a few specimens might be 
found, falling back, with the Red Men, upon the E,ocky 
Mountains. And where will the Caucasian race be three 
centuries [his very figures] hence? Your statesmen are 
right, but, like Opecancanough, right too late. Your 
race is doomed; not, indeed, to extinction, for already 
the despised Mongol begins to find wives among yo i, 
but you will be crossed out of existence by a superior 
and prepotent race. Look at me," said he, giving him- 
self a slap upon his broad chest ; "do I look like an 
inferior specimen of — there he comes again !" 

Looking, I saw the rat, stealthily creeping toward 
the Qggt his larboard e^'e covering us, his starboai'd 
fixed upon a cat that lay dozing in the shadow of a post. 

"There he is, that intruder from Persia, and he will 
remain with you. Housewives may poison, here and 
there, a score of them, — the survivors take warning; 
pussy may lie in wait, — he learns to avoid — even to 
bully her. Terriers may dig down into their hiding- 
j)laces, — they will bore others. An incautious youngster 
gets his leg in a trap, — his squeal is a liberal education 
to the entire colony. He has an infinite capacity for 
adjusting himself to his environment. He is here for 
good ; and so is the Chinaman. Congress may legislate 
against him ; it will be a Papal bull against a comet. 
Mobs ma}' assail him, trade-unions damn him; but the 
Chinaman will not go. And myriads more, the sur- 
vivors of ages of a fearful struggle foi- existence at home, 
will pour in. He will not go. He will come; and be- 
tween Ying Kee and Yang Kee the fittest will survive." 

" Westward," began I, " westward the star of em- 
pire — " 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 23 

" Scat !" cried he, leaping from his seat. 

Our rat, having, at la^t, after many advances and re- 
treats, secured the Q(^g, was making off with it to his 
hole, when the cat, awakening, sprang after him. Down 
he plunged into his hole, bearing off the egg, but leaving 
an inch of his tail under pussy's paws. 

"Scat!" cried I, rushing to the rat's assistance, — and 
bump ! I fell upon the floor. 

Ah Ying had vanished. My door was still locked. 
It had all been a dream. 

SO. 

No, my boy, I am not a candidate for the Presidency. 
This is no hook baited with the Chinese question. My 
object is merely to explain how you happen to have 
almond eyes. And if you don't, you will understand 
that it is no fault of mine. The \Velsh rarebit dream 
overcame the canned lobster vision, — that's all. And 
having made this clear to you, as I hope, the time has 
come for me to say a few words about myself. 

31. 

When this book shall be, on your twenty-first birth- 
day, laid beside your plate, at breakfast, by your 
thoughtful yellow father, I have no doubt that you 
will ask him, before even you begin to play your chop- 
sticks, who wrote it. Kow, what will it avail you for 
him to say that it was written by John Boucho 
Whacker, of the Eichmond bar? Who was John 
Bouche Whacker ? And that question means (at least 
since Mr. Charles Darwin wrote) who was the father 
and who the mother of J. B. W. ; and the father and 
mother of this pair, and so on, and so on. 

Now, I suppose that if 1 were to push the inquiry into 
prehistoric times, it w^ould turn out that I was related 
to the entire Indo-Germanic race ; but I shall content 
myself with indicating to you the three chief strains of 
blood which mingle in my veins, leaving to 3'ou, as you 
read chapter after chapter, this entertaining ethnologi- 
cal puzzle: Who spoke there? The Dane"? or was it 
the Saxon ? As to my Huguenot blood, there will be 



24 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

no hiding that. It will always be on fire, at the merest 
suggestion of a dogma of theology. 

23. 

I. — THE WHACKERS. 

Ev^ery school-boy knows that, no sooner had their 
brave Q^^^n Boadicea perished, than the Britons lost 
all stomach for fighting, and gave themselves up wholly 
to roast beef and plum pudding. Nor is it a secret, 
that when the Eoman legions, to whom they had 
learned to look for protection, were withdrawn from 
the island, the Picts and Scots, grown weary of oat- 
meal, began to trouble the more sumptuous feasts of 
their neighbors. Remonstrances proving fruitless, they 
sent for the Jutes and the Saxons and the Angles (so 
called, respectively, from a valuable plant, a fine variety 
of wool, and a singular devotion to fishing). These 
sturdy braves crossed the water with their renowned 
battle-axes, as every school-boy knows. But what even 
our very learned young friend does not, perhaps, sus- 
pect, is that, along with Hengist and Horsa, there 
sailed, on this historical occasion, two twin brothers, 
named respectively Ethelbert and Alfred Whacker, — or 
Hvaecere, as they themselves would have spelled it, 
had they thought spelling, of any sort, worth their 
heroic while; Avhich, haply, they did not. Now, from 
these twins I am lineally descended, as you shall see 
duly set foilh in the Whacker Records, herewith trans- 
mitted. You will find in these family annals, too, some 
details not sufiicicntly elaborated, perhaps, in thQ Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle, and other authorities for this period. 
There is the barest allusion, for instance, to the brave 
death of Ethelbert Hvaecere, the eldest of the twins, 
which occurred as follows : 

33. 

When the English (for such recent historians have 
shown that they were, and not Germans, as they them- 
selves, absurdly enough, supposed themselves to be) — 
when the English reached the Wall of Severus, they 
found that earth- work lined, for miles, with Picts and 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 25 

Scots. So, at least, they were named in Pinnock's 
Goldsmith's England, which I read at school. So, 
too, you will find they are called in the WJiacker Rec- 
ords. Eecent historical research, however, has demon- 
strated that the so-called Picts were, in reality, j^ainted 
Scotchmen, while the alleged Scots were neither more 
nor less than Irishmen. And I must confess that when 
I re-read the Whacker Records b}^ these modern lights, I 
was ashamed that I had not made this discovery myself. 
It would appear that the west of Scotland was origi- 
nally settled by the Irish ; and that those who remained 
at home took so lively an interest in their emigrated 
brethren, that whenever they got news of a wake or 
other shindj^ that was brewing beyond the Channel, 
they would shoot across in their canoes, or else — so sur- 
prisingly low were the tides in those simple days — 
wade across and join in the fray ; as they did on the 
present occasion. 

You and I have no special interest in Hengist's attack 
on the tattooed Scotchmen on the enemy's left; for the 
two Hvaeceres fought under Horsa, on our left. 

And things looked so strange to Horsa, as he ap- 
proached the enemy, that this wily captain called a 
halt and sent word to Hengist to delay the attack till 
he could look into matters a little. And this is what he 
observed, standing a little in front of his line, with the 
two Hvaeceres (who constituted his staff) by his side. 

In the first place, the weapons which these so-called 
Scots were waving above their heads were not claj^- 
mores, as he had been led to expect. Instead, they 
brandished stout, blackish, knotted clubs, and to the 
accompaniment, not of the shrill bagpipe or the rhyth- 
mic slogan, but with fierce and discordant cries. One 
thing he remarked with grim satisfaction. Standing 
in dense masses, and whirling their clubs with more 
fervor than care, it constantly happened that a neigh- 
boring head got a tap; and no sooner had this oc- 
curred (giving- forth a singularly solid sound) than it 
instantly set up a local internecine fracas of such 
severity that, at times, considerable spaces of the wall 
B 3 



26 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

were denuded of defenders; who, tumbling into the 
transmural ditch, fought fiercely there. In a few min- 
utes, however, they would reappear, smiling, as though 
they had been seeing fun of some sort, over there be- 
yond the wall. Once, indeed, one of the combatants, 
— a little bow-legged fellow, — bringing down his shil- 
laleh (which is Celtic for hickory) with a sounding 
thwack upon the bare head of a burly opponent, 
knocked him down the slope of the wall on our side, 
and, standing upon the edge of the wall, with his 
thumb to his nose, jeered at him. 

" Who hit Maginnis?" cried he in Gaelic; and even 
the Maginnises roared with laughter. Nay, grim 
Horsa, too, was observed to smile ; for he knew their 
language well, having learned it during his many in- 
cursions into Gaul. 

But, just at this moment, Hengist riding up, and 
seeing our men seated on the ground, and laughing, as 
though at a show, flew into a rage ; for, like his mater- 
nal uncle, Ariovistus, he was of an ungovernable tem- 
per ; and asked his brother Horsa what in the Walhalla 
he meant. " Do you call this business ?" added he, — for 
he was an Anglo-Saxon. 

" I am giving them time to knock out each other's 
brains," replied Horsa, in his slow-spoken way. 

" Then will 3'ou wait till doomsday," replied the 
humorous monarch ; and galloping back to his lines, 
well pleased with his sally, he ordered an immediate 
advance upon the pictured Macgregors in his front. 

We charged too. (I have read the account so often 
that I cannot help thinking I was there.) And it was 
then that Horsa discovered the meaning of a reddish 
line along the top of the wall in his front. Observing 
no signs of missile weapons among the enemy, he had 
flattered himself that he would easily have the master}^ 
over them, with his terrible battle-axes against their 
shillalehs. But wlien we got within thirty feet of them 
(not before) they stooped as one man and rose again. 
An instant more and we thought that Thor was raining 
his thunder-bolts upon our shields. 'Our men went 
down by hundreds. A reddish mist filled the air. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 27 

'Twas brick-dust! 

With such prodigious force did they hurl their na- 
tional weapon (shamrock is the pretty name of it in 
the G-ael) against our shields, that, where it did not go 
through, it was reduced to powder. 

We stood a long while, stunned, blinded, bewildered ; 
suffering heavil}^, doing nothing in repl3\ At last there 
was a slight lull in the storm of missiles ; for as they 
had each brought over but a peck of ammunition, in 
their corduroys, the more impetuous among them were 
beginning to run short ; and it was then that our sturdy 
ancestor showed the stuff he was made of Assuming 
command (for Horsa, with Alfred Hvaecere by his side, 
lay insensible upon the grass), "Men," cried he, " why 
do we stand here ? Eemember Quintilius Varus and his 
legions ! To your axes ! to your axes !" And the whole 
line staggered forward, with Ethelbert well in front 
and bearing down upon Maginnis. (The same, — though 
his mother would scared}^ have known him, with that 
blue-black bulge in his forehead.) And it is mainly 
from an observation that Maginnis made at this junc- 
ture that I am inclined to give in my adhesion to the 
hypothesis of the later historians, who claim that these 
men were not Scots. 

" Erin go bragh !" cried the undaunted chieftain, 
reaching down into his trousers for a reserve brick, — 
an heirloom, — black, glistening, hard as flint, mother 
of wakes — 

" Thor smash thee !" cried the Hvaecere ; and toss- 
ing away his shield, he lifted aloft, in both hands, his 
mighty axe. It trembled in the air, ready to descend. 

Too late, — for the brick of Maginnis landed square 
between the hero's eyes, — and 3'ou and I had to be 
descended from the younger brother, 

25. 

The Whackers, therefore, are not ancestors that one 
needs blush to own.* But I have not meant to boast. 

* I sometimes wonder how some people can plume themselves on their 
descent, though able to trace it back only to the Norman Conquest. 

J. B. W. 



28 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Else had I been unworthy of them. They were Anglo- 
Saxon ; and when I have said that, I have said that 
they had a certain sturdy love of truth, for which this 
race is conspicuous. And so this book may be absurd, 
or even wicked, nay, worst of all, dull ; but one thing 
you may rely upon. Every word in it will be true. 

S6. 

II. — THE DANICHESTERS. 

It did not seem so while I was writing it, but now 
that my book is finished, it strikes me as one of the 
oddest works I have ever read. You can never tell 
what is coming next. Even to me it was a series of 
surprises. Bead the first ten lines of any chapter. 
!N"ow read the last ten. Heavens, how did he get 
there! I seem never to know whither, or how far I 
am going. It has been the same with me all my life. 
Often, as a boy, I have set out for a neighbor's on a 
mule, and not gone all the way. 

Another singular trait about this book is what I 
must be allowed to call its unconscious humor. A 
strange thing to say about one's own book ; but some- 
how, when I am reading it, I can't shake off the im- 
pression that some other fellow wrote it, or that I 
Avrote it in my sleep, — so many things do I find in it 
which I could almost swear I never thought of in my 
life. And there are a dozen passages in it where 1 
slapped my thigh, cr} ing out. Good ! Good ! And 
more than once I caught myself saying, By Jove, I 
should like to know the old boy who wrote this! 

Yet, never in my life was I more serious than when 
I sat down to write this work; for it was the solemn, 
theological, Huguenot molecules of my brain that set 
me to writing; and the book was to be too grave to 
bring a ripple to the beak of a Laughing Jackass, — that 
jovial kingfisher whose professional hilarity cheers the 
lone Australian shepherd. 

Now, since man — as every college-bo}^ knows — and 
it is well to know something — since man is but the 
sum of his ancestors modified by his environment, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 29 

whence have I derived this trait of mine, this uncon- 
scious humor, — the gift, that is, of making people laugh 
without intending it? Many persons have it, but 
where did /get it? 

Not from the business-like \y hackers, surely. Still 
less from the Pope-hating Bouches. I must derive it 
from my Danichester blood. From this source, too, I 
must get another characteristic, — that of being sad 
when others are gay. In the midst of piping and 
fiddling I sometimes ask my heart what is the use of 
it all. And ofttimes, while I have stood smiling as I 
looked upon a group of merry children at play, I could 
feel the tears trickling back upon my heart. 

Family traits are generallj^ modified (Darwin, passim) 
from generation to generation. Thus, the grandson 
of a painter will be a musician, perhaps; and many 
literary people are sons of clergymen. There is simi- 
larity rather than identity. And so this vein of sad- 
ness, which lies so deep in me that few or none of ray 
friends have ever suspected its existence, crops out in 
one of my progenitors. I allude to Olaf Danichester, 
Gent., whose daughter Gunhilda was married to John 
Whacker, merchant, London, in the seventeenth year 
of the reign of glorious Queen Bess. 

Now, from all accounts, this ancestor of ours had a 
most extraordinary way of saying things that no one 
else would ever have thought of; added to which was 
the singularity that, after he had run through the for- 
tune brought to him by his second wife, he was never 
known to smile. And it is no secret to the Whacker 
connection (though not generally known in literary 
circles) that the immortal Shakespeare, who often sat 
with him over a cold cut and a tankard of ale in the 
parlor of his prosperous son-in-law (J. W.), has em- 
balmed him for posterity in the melancholy Jaques. 

Now, the diff*erence between Olaf Danichester and 
myself is simply that he gave utterance to his sad 
thoughts, while I keep mine to myself. I am a mere 
modification of him, just as he was of his valiant pro- 
genitor, Yagn Akason, the Yiking. This Yagn, though 
an eminent waterman in his day, did not come over to 

3* 



30 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

America in the Mayflower, — chiefly because he was 
killed centuries before she sailed, but in part, also, be- 
cause he felt no wish to make others worship God after 
his fashion ; which was a very poor fashion, I fear, from 
the account given of him in our Eecords. At any rate, 
he was a marvellously handsome fellow, this Yiking 
bold ; and when he went forth to battle, a storm of 
yellow hair, as Motherwell says, floated over his broad 
shoulders, — so that he looked for all the world like 
Lohengrin. But I suspect he was not the kind of man 
we should select, at the present day, as superintendent 
of a Sunday-school. For one thing, he was a most 
omnipotous drinker; nor should I ever have admitted 
that I had a drop of his blood in my veins had it not 
been necessary for me, as a Darwinian, to account for 
my unconscious humor. And if these words savor of 
conceit, let us call it my trick of saying and doing the 
most unexpected things. Hear the account of the 
death of this brave young sea-rover, and see whether I 
do not come honestly by this trait : 

He, with seventeen of his companions, had been cap- 
tured, and had been made, according to the custom of 
those rude days, to straddle a large log, one behind the 
other, wdth their hands tied behind their backs. Up 
came, then, the victor, Jarl Hakon (after a leisurely 
breakfast of pork chops), to strike off their heads. 
This, to us, seems unkind ; but having one's head 
chopped off was such a matter of course in those days 
that no one ever thought for an instant of minding it 
in the least. Give and take was the way they looked 
at it. 

But brave as these men were in the presence of the 
headsman, they shuddered at the very thought of a 
barber. They gloried in their long hair. To lose their 
heads was an incident of war ; to lose their locks a dis- 
grace which followed them even into the next world. 
According to a superstition of theirs, a Sea-Cavalier 
who lost his curls just before parting with his head 
was doomed to be a'Eoundhead ghost and a laughing- 
stock throughout eternity. 

Up strode the fierce headsman, Tharkell Leire, and 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 31 

bade the captive Yiking lean forward and lay bis 
golden hair upon the log. He obeyed, but held his 
calm, sky-blue eye upon the glittering axe, and, quick 
as a flash, as it descended, covered his fair curls with 
his fairer neck. And when his seventeen comrades, 
■who sat there waiting their turn, saw how their wily 
captain had outwitted their enem}^ and how he raged 
thereat, they roared with Sea-King laughter. 

III. THE BOUCHES. 

Every school-boy knows what the Edict of Nantes 
was; but philosophers differ as to what Avas the effect 
of its revocation upon the fortunes of France. For us 
it is enough to know that Louis XIY., by recalling it, 
drove to Virginia our ancestor John Bouche, whose 
daughter, Elizabeth, completely caj)tivated my great 
etc. grandfather, Tom Whacker, by her pretty French 
accent and trim French figure. She was good and wise, 
too; but the rascal never found that out till after he 
married her. It must be owing to the Danichester 
strain, I suppose, that the Whackers,' so sensible in 
many ways, have always sought grace and beauty in 
their wives, rather than piety and learning ; and I sup- 
pose I shall be no wiser than my fathers when my time 
comes. 

This Huguenot cross gave the old Whacker stock a 
twist towards theology. Two of the sons of Thomas 
and Elizabeth took orders, much to the surprise of their 
father, who used to say that Reverend Whacker had a 
queer sound to his ear. So prepotent, in fact, has the 
Huguenot strain become, that a Whacker is no longer 
a Whacker. In the old daj's our eyes were as blue as 
the sky ; now they are as black as sloes. Once w^e were 
reserved and silent; now — but enough. As for myself, 
it has often seemed to me that I was all Bouche, — 
Bouche et prceterea nihil, — as the ancient Eomans put 
it in their compact way. 

JSTeedless to say, therefore, that this book was to in- 
struct and edify you. You may see that from the very 
first sentence of it all that I wrote : 



32 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" And, now in conclusion, my dear boy, if you rise 
from the perusal of this work a wiser and better man, 
the direct author of the book and the indirect author 
of your being will feel amply repaid for all his toil." 

Such were my intentions. And now read the book, 
as it stands. Heavens and earth, was there ever such 
another! Alas, those Danichester molecules, what 
have they not made me say ! Page after page, and 
chapter after chapter, in which I defy even a mouse to 
pick up a crumb of edification. Chapter after chapter 
of feasting, fiddling, dancing, courting, — roast turkeys, 
broiled oysters, hams seven years old. Bowls full of 
egg-nogg, pipes full of tobacco, students full of apple- 
toddy, — everything to make a man feel good, nothing 
to make him be good. For the heathen Tiking in me 
speaks ! 

Yet he does not hold entire sway. But as we sit — 
you and I and the friends you shall presently make — 
sit joyously picnicking in a fair wood — more than once 
the trees above us, as you shall find, will seem to moan, 
as they bend before the gentle breeze. 'Tis the spirit 
of the melancholy Jaques, perched like a raven, there. 
To him a sob lies lurking in every laugh ; and his weary 
eyes can never look upon a dimple — a dimple, smile- 
wrought in damask cheek — but they see therein the 
sheen of coming tears. 

28. 

Here I am, then, Whacker-Danichester-Bouche. 
[Anglice, Bush.] And, since man is but the epitome of 
his ancestry, what kind of an author should result? 
Chemists tells us that it is not so much the molecules 
as their arrangement. Let us try this : Danichester- 
Bush-Whacker, — so what else could I be but a 

Humoristico-sentimental Bushwhacker ? 

And such I am, ladies and gentlemen, at your ser- 
vice I 

29. 

And a Bushwhacker, beloved scion, you will rightly 
divine to be one who whacks from behind a bush. But 



THE STORV OF DON MIFF. 33 

that this is so is (and that you would never guess) one 
of those whimsical accidents of which philology points 
out so many examples. Bushwhackers no more got 
their name in the way the name suggests than your 
Shank-high fowls got theirs from length of limb. 

How they did get it I must now explain. Not that I 
may vaingloriously show off my rather quaint and curi- 
ous philologic lore. I have a better motive. The word 
has its origin in an incident in our family history ; an 
incident, too, of such interest that it gave rise to a 
poem, famous in its day, beginning, " All quiet along 
the Potomac to-night," — the author of which will never 
be known. For three hundred and eleven people 
(two hundred and ninety-nine women and twelve men) 
went before justices of the peace, when it began to 
make a noise in the world, and made oath that they 
wrote it. Which shows, among other things, that there 
is no lack of justices of the peace in this country. But 
let's to the incident. 

30. 

You must know, then, that the Bouche connection 
is as numerous as it is respectable. Hardly a county 
in Virginia where you shall not find a colony of them. 
And as a rule they are genteel folk, mingling with the 
best. But (for I shall not conceal it from you) every 
now and then one stumbles upon a shoot of the original 
stem that is flillen into the sere and yellow leaf Still, 
the motto with us is, that a Bouche is a Bouche, even 
though he be run down at the heel. But our clannish- 
ness has its limits. We draw the line at the spelling 
of the name, — draw it sharply between Bouche and 
Bush. Still, I happen to have heard my grandfather 
say that, though old Jim Bush did not spell the name 
after the aristocratic Huguenot fashion, his father be- 
fore him did J and that, consequently, he was one of 
us. 

After all, he was by no means a bad fellow. It covers 
his case better to say that he was not profitable unto 
himself. He was, in fact, a kind of Rip Yan Winkle, 
whose hands, though he was desperately poor and 



34 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

owned a farm of a few acres, w^ere more familiar with 
the rifle than the handles of a plough. For miles 
around his tumble-down old house he and his gun were 
a terror to game of all kinds ; and it was believed that, 
of squirrels especially, he had killed more, in his day, 
than any man within miles of Alexandria. Nor were 
there lacking those who maintained that upon a dozen 
of these edible rodents, as a substratum, he could 
build up a Brunswick stew such as — but I dined with 
him once, and feel no need of outside testimony. (I 
suppose it was the French streak in him. He spelt 
himself Bush, but blood w^ill tell.) 

"The main secret. Jack" (everybody calls me Jack, 
no matter how poor and humble they may be ; besides, 
he iDas a cousin), — " the main secret is that I put in 
the brains. When I was a green hand with the rifle I 
used to knock their heads oif ; and monstrous proud I 
was, I remember, of never touching their bodies. Now 
I save their brains by just wiping off their smellers." 

Yes, m}^ son, he was an out-at-the-elbows Bouche, 
and his lans-uage was low. But let us not sneer at him. 
He could do two things well. And how many of us 
can do one ! For my own part, when I look at myself 
and then at my brother-men, I cannot find it in my 
heart to despise the lowliest of them all. The scornful 
alone do I scorn. And when I see a little two-legged 
puft-ball strutting along, with its nose in the air, I long 
for old Jim Bush and his rifle, that he might serve it 
as he did the squirrels. 

31. 

Old Jim's ramshackle house stood in the zone which 
lay between the Northern and Southern armies during 
the winter following the first battle of Manassas, or 
Bull Eun. He was not young enough to shoulder his 
musket, having been born in the year 1800. Besides, 
rheumatism had laid its heavy hand upon his left knee. 
As scouting parties of the enemy frequently came un- 
comfortably near old Jim's little farm, he, dreading 
capture, spent most of his time in the dense woods 
w^hich surrounded his house, creeping back, at nightfall, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 35 

beneath its friendly roof. True, the roof leaked here 
and there, but it was all he had, and he loved it. 

One day the enemy pushed forward their picket-line 
as far as his house, and established a station there. It 
was late in the afternoon when they came, and old Jim, 
who had already returned for the night, had barely 
time, on hearing the clatter of hoofs at his very door, 
to rush out by the back waj' and tumble into the dense 
jungle of a ravine which skirted his little garden. 
Yery naturallj', to a Bedouin like old Bush, the idea of 
being immured in a noisome dungeon, as had happened 
to some of his less wily neighbors, was full of horrors ; 
and crawling into the densest part of the thicket, he 
crouched there pale and hardly breathing, lest the men 
whose voices he heard so clearly should hear him. 

Old Joe — for, while Jim differed from Diogenes in 
many other ways, he was like him in this, that he 
owned a solitary slave — old Joe they had caught. No 
doubt the sizzling (the dictionary-man will please put 
the word in his next edition) — the sizzling of the bacon 
in his frj'ing-pan dulled his hearing ; and so his knees 
smote together, when, raising his eyes to the darkened 
door, he saw a Federal soldier standing upon the 
threshold. 

•SSarvant, mahster!" stammered he through his 
chattering teeth. 

In order to explain his terror to readers of the pres- 
ent da}^, I must beg them to recall the fact that Lincoln 
had issued a proclamation that the North had no in- 
tention or wish to overthrow slavery in the South. 
" We come to save the Union, — dash the niggers!" was 
the angry and universal reply of the Federal soldiers 
when our women jeered them on their supposed mis- 
sion. Hence the phrase " wicked and causeless rebel- 
lion," without which no loyal editor could get on with 
the least comfort in those Qurly days of the war. 

Just as a poetess, nowadays, rends her ringlets till 
she finds a way of working "gloaming" into her httle 
sonnet. 

The abolitionists, — to praise them is the toughest task 
my conscience ever put upon me, — though they brought 



36 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

on the war, were not war-men. They honestly ab- 
horred slavery, and had the courage of their convic- 
tions. They would have let the " erring sisters depart 
in peace" so as to rid the Union of the blot of African 
servitude, and deserve such honor as is due to earnest 
men. Later on, they changed their position ; but mid- 
dle-aged men will remember what their views were at 
the opening of the struggle. 

Not recognizing, therefore, a friend in the " Yankee" 
who stood in his door-way, the glitter of his bayonet 
Avas disagreeable to old Joe's eyes, and the point of it 
looked so sharp that it made his ribs ache; and his 
knees trembled beneath him. For old Joe was not by 
nature bloodthirsty, nor longed for gore, — least of all 
the intimate and personal gore of Joseph Meekins. 

" Sarvant, mahster!" 

Perhaps old Jim's naturally serene temper was ruf- 
fled, at the moment, by the fact that the fangs of a 
blackberry-bush, under which he had forced his head, 
had fastened themselves upon his right ear. At any 
rate, I am afraid he muttered, sotto voce, an oath at 
hearing his old slave and friend call a Yankee master. 

"Sarvant, mahster!" 

Old Joe's form was bent low, his teeth chattered, his 
eyes rolled in terror like those of a bullock dragged up 
to the slaughter-post and the knife. 

The sight of a man's face distorted with abject fear 
has always filled me with deep compassion ; but I be- 
lieve it arouses in the average man (which I am far 
from claiming to be) a feeling of pitiless scorn. 

"Sarvant, mahster!" chattered old Joe, writhing 
himself behind the kitchen table. The soldier was an 
average man. 

" Where is your master, you d — d old baboon?" said 
he, entering the kitchen. 

" My mahster, yes, mahster, my mahster, he — for de 
love o' Gaud, young gent'mun, don't pint herdis way, 
— she mought be loaded. Take a cheer, young mah- 
ster ; jess set up to de table" (over which he gave a rapid 
pass with his sleeve) " an' lemme gi' you some o' dat 
nice bacon I was jess a-fryin' for my mahster's supper." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 37 

At these words old Jim's teeth began to chatter so 
that he forgot the belligerent brier. 

The soldier, hungry from his march, fell to, nothing 
loath, but had scarcely eaten three mouthfuls before 
several of his comrades appeared, all of whom fell foul 
of poor old Jim's supper with military ardor, if without 
militar}^ precision. 

" Where's the old F. F. Y. ?" asked a new-comer, 
through a mouthful of hoe-cake. 

"Yes, where is your master?" put in the first man. 
" You didn't tell me. Out with it." 

Joe had had time to repent of his ill-advised admis- 
sion in regard to the supper. 

"You ax me whar Mr. Bush is? Oh, he's in Cul- 
peper Court-House. Leastways, he leff b'fo' light dis 
mornin' boun' dar." 

The audacious lack of adjustment between this state- 
ment and the facts of the case amazed, almost amused, 
old Jim. Breathing a little freer, he ventured softly to 
shake his ear loose from the brier; for he could not 
reach it with his hand. 

"Why, you lying old ape, didn't you tell me that 
this was his supper ?" 

" Cert'n'3-, young gent'mun ; cert'n'y I say dat, in 
course." 

"And your master at Culpeper ?" 

"Yes, young mahster. Dis is de way 'tis. You 
'pear like a stranger in dese parts, beggin' your par- 
don, an' maybe you mout'n' understan' how de folks 
'bout here is. S'posin' some o' de neighbors had 'a' step 
in, and dar warn't nothin' for 'em to eat, an' mahster 
hear 'bout it when he come back, how I turn a gent'- 
mun hongry 'way fum de do'. How 'bout dat, you 
reckon ? Umgh-umgh ! You don't know my mahster! 
Didn't I try it once ! Lord 'a' mussy !" 

" How was it ?" 

" You ax me how was it ! Go 'long, chile I" (No mus- 
ket had gone off yet, and Joe began to feel rather more 
comfortable.) "Go 'long! My mahster was off fox- 
huntin' wid some o' de bloods, — some o' de bloods, — 
an' when he come back an' find out I hadn't cook no 

4 



38 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

supper jess 'cause he was away, an' I done turn a gent*- 
mun off widout he supper, mahster he gimme, eff you 
b'lieve Joe, he gimme 'bout de keenest breshin' Joe 
ever tase in he born days." And, throwing back his 
head, he gave a kiugh such as these soldiers had never 
heard in their Hves. 

And none of us shall ever hear again. 

As for old Jim, who had never laid the weight of his 
finger on the romancer whose imagination was now 
])laying like a fountain, tears of affectionate gratitude 
came into his eyes. 

An instant later, and all kindly feeling was curdled in 
his simple heart. 

Hearing a bustle, he peeped through the briers, and 
saw the officer in command of the party coming towards 
the kitchen, bearing in his hand the Virginia flag. He 
had discovered it in old Jim's bedroom, where he had 
tacked it upon the bare wall, so that it was the last 
thing he saw at night and the first his opening eyes 
beheld. It was an insult to the Union soldiers, he 
heard the oflScer say, to flaunt the old rag in their 
faces. It was what no patriot could stand. He would 
teach the dashed rebels a lesson. "Set fire to this 
house," he ordered. " The old rattletrap would fall 
down anyway, the first high wind that came along," 
he added, with a laugli. 

That laugh had a keener sting for old Jim than the 
order to burn down the house which had sheltered him 
for sixty years. The bitterest thing about poverty, 
says Juvenal, is that it makes men ridiculous. 

Late in the nio-ht, when the smokinsc ruins of his 
house no longer gave any light, Jim crawled stealthily 
down the ravine. Could the sentry, as he marched 
back and forth on his beat, have seen the look that the 
old man, turning, fixed upon him every now and then 
as he made his way through the jungle, he would have 
felt less comfortable. As for Jim, half dead w^ith cold, 
he reached the fires of the Confederate pickets at da}^- 
break. On his way he had stopped at a certain old 
oak, and, thrusting down his arm into its hollow trunk, 
drew forth his rifle. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 39 

" Bushy-tails," said he, with grave passion, waving 
his hand in the direction of the tree-tops above him, 
" you needn't mind old Jim any longer. Lead is skeerce 
these times. You may skip 'round and chatter all you 
want to. Your smellers is safe. And gobblers,, you 
may gobble and strut in peace now. You needn't say 
put! put! when you see me creepin' 'round. I won't 
be a-lookin' for you. You'll have to excuse the old 
man. Bullets is skeerce these days, let alone powder. 
So, good-by, my honeys. And if you will forgive me 
the harm t have done you, old Jim won't trouble you 
any more." 

And so, with his rifle across his lap, he sat upon a 
log and warmed his benumbed limbs, and, looking into 
friendly faces, warmed his heart, too. 

" I say, old man," said a young soldier, chaffing him, 
" what do you call that thing lying in your lap ? Can 
it shoot?" 

" I call her Old Betsey," said he. " You may laugh 
at her, but if you hold her right and steady, she hurts. 
There ain't an^^thing funny about Old Betsey's business 
end, I promise you." And he tapped the muzzle of his 
rifle with a grim smile. 

Late in the afternoon of the next day (it took him 
all this day to get thawed) old Jim bade the jolly boys 
at the picket station good-day. He was going scout- 
ing, he said. 

" Leave the old pop-gun behind," cried one. 

" JSTo, take it along," put in another. " Perhaps you 
may knock over a molly-cotton-tail. Fetch her in, 
and we will help you cook her." 

32. 

Just before sundown the old man reached the sum- 
mit of a densely-wooded little hill, about three hundred 
yards from where his house had lately stood. Stopping 
in front of a tall hickory on its apex, he raised his eyes 
and surveyed the tree from bottom to top. 

"I went up it once, after nuts," said he, speaking 
aloud ; " but that was many a year ago, — let me see, — 
yes, forty-five years. AYell, I must try— ah, I see, — I 



40 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

can make it." And, leaning Old Betsey against the 
huge trunk, he tackled a young white oak. 

Old Jiin was tough and wiry, and found no great dif- 
ficult}^ in climbing this to a point about thirty feet from 
the ground, where a large branch of the hickory came 
within a foot of the white oak. This he coonecl till he 
reached the trunk. [I have not time to define cooning. 
Sufiice it to say that, like heat, it is a mode of motion.] 
Toiling up this till he reached a fork about eighty feet 
from the ground, he, with a sharp effort, adjusted his 
own bifurcation to that of the tree, and immediately, 
without taking time to collect his breath, leaned for- 
ward, and fixed his eyes intently upon the little open 
space in front of the ruins of his house. He gazed-, 
motionless, for a little while, then nodded his head, — 
" Ah, there he comes." He sat there for half an hour, 
watching the sentry come into view and again pass out 
of sight, as he marched to and fro. "Weil, old man," 
said he, at last, "I reckon you know about all you 
want to know." And twisting his stiff leg out of the 
fork, with a wry face, he descended the hickor}^, and 
took his seat upon a fallen trunk that lay near, throw- 
ing old Betsey across his lap. It was growing dark, and 
every now and then he raised his rifle to his cheek and 
took aim at various trees around him. Took aim again 
and again, lowering and raising his rifle, witli con- 
tracted brows. "I am afraid my eyes are growing 
dim," he muttered ; " but the moon will rise at a quar- 
ter to ten, and then it will be all right, won't it, old 
Bet? Don't you remember that big gobbler we tum- 
bled out of the beech-tree, one moonlight night — let me 
see — nineteen years ago coming next Christmas Eve ? 
And you ain't going to go back on me to-night, are 
you? Oh, I know you will stand by me this one time, 
if my eyes are just a little old and dim. I know you 
will help me out, as you have done many a time before, 
when I didn't point you just right, but 3'ou knew where 
I wanted the bullet to go. Do you know what's hap- 
pened, old gal ? Do you know that the little corner 
behind the bed, where you have stood for fifty years, is 
all ashes now, and the bed, too? Do you hear me. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 41 

Betsey? And as the Holy Scripture says, the birds of 
the air have their nests, and the foxes their holes, but 
you and I have not where to lay our heads." 

The old man bowed his head over his rifle ; and the 
fading twilight revealed the cold, steady gleam of its 
polished barrel, spotted with the quivering shimmer of 

hot tears. 

33. 

A soldier marched to and fro in the darkness. It op- 
pressed him, and he longed for the moon to rise. 

Does the wisest among us know what to pray for? 
■ Tramp ! tramp ! tramp ! tramp ! He pauses at one end 
of his beat and looks down upon his comrades sleeping, 
wrapped in their blankets, with their feet to the fire. 
When his hour is up, he, too, will sleep. Yes, and it is 
up, now, poor fellow, and your sleep will know no 
waking ! 

Yet it was not you who burned the nest of the poor 
old man. Nor even your regiment. Nor had you helped 
to hound the South to revolution by threats and con- 
tumely. 'Twas John Brown dissolved the Union. You 
hated him and his work, for you loved your whole 
country,— you and your father, who bade you good-by, 
the other day, with averted fiice. And now you must 
die that that work may be undone. You and half a 
million more of your people. 

The South salutes your memory ! 

Ah, the moon is rising now. Eibbons of light steal- 
ing through the trees lie across his path, and yonder, 
at the farther end of it, the Queen of Night pours a 
flood of soft eff'ulgence through a rift in tljp wood. 
The young soldier stood in the midst of it, bathed in a 
glorious pfenitude of peaceful light. Such perfect still- 
ness ! Can this be war, thought he ? He could hear 
the ticking of his watch upon his heart. But the click ! 
click ! beneath that dark old oak, — that he did not hear. 
And that barrel that gUtters grimly even in the shadow, 
— he sees it not. The tear-stains are upon it still ; but 
the tears are dried and gone. 

Click! click! 

The muzzle rises slowly ; butt and shoulder meet. A 
4* 



42 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

head bends low ; a left eye closes ; the right, brown as 
a hawk's and as fierce, glares, from beneath corrugated 
brow, along a barrel that rests as though in a grip of 
steel. The keen report of a sporting rifle — not loud, 
but crisp and clear — rings through the silent wood, and 
there is a heavy fall and a groan. 

And the placid moon, serene mocker of mortals and 
their woes, floated upward and upward, and on and on. 
On and on, supremely tranquil, over other scenes, 
whether of love or hate. 

Ah, can it be true that we poor men have no friend 
anywhere in the heavens above, as some would have 
us believe? or the ever-peaceful gods, dwellers upon 
Olympus, have they in very deed forgotten us ? 

34. 

"Where's 3'our game, grandpa?" asked the young 
soldier. " We have been sitting up waiting for you 
and your rabbit." 

"There are two kinds of game," replied the old man, 
warming his hands before the fire ; " one sort you bring 
home, the other kind you send home." 

" What! did you shoot a Yankee? One of the boys 
thought he heard the crack of a rifle." 

" 'Twas old Betsey," replied he, patting her cheek, as 
it were. " We whacked one of 'em. He won't set fire 
to any more houses, I reckon." 

After this, old Jim, thoroughly acquainted with the 
country for miles around, became a regular scout ; and 
going and coming at all hours of the night and day, he 
was soon well-known along the line of our outposts. 
And whenever he had important information to give, he 
went straight to headquarters ; but whenever, after a 
moonlight night, he stopped at the picket-post, sat 
down on a log and toyed with his rifle, seeming to have 
nothing to say, the boys knew that he was waiting for 
a certain question: "Yes, old Betsey and me whacked 
one of 'em last night." And then he would set out 
for headquarters, and the soldiers, passing the news, 
and adopting old Jim's word, would sa}^, " Old Bush 
whacked another of the rascals last night." And these 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 43 

two words, 90 often brought in contact, at last cohered. 
Bushwhacker did not, therefore, originally, at least, 
mean a man who whacked from behind a thicket, but 
one who whacked after the fashion of old Jim Bush. 

35. 

And I am a Bushwhacker who whacketh after that 
fashion. So much so, that it seems to me that my 
parents made a sort of prophetic pun when they named 
me John Bouche. The difference between me and old 
Jim is simply this : that he expressed his sentiments 
with a carnal rifle, I mine with a spiritual one. He hung 
upon the skirts of the Northern hosts ; I go stalking 
stragglers from the Noble Army of Lies. Every sham 
the sturdy Whacker molecules of me impel my soul to 
hate. Yet my Huguenot blood shrinks from martyr- 
dom. Did not they leave France to avoid it ? I never 
attack the main body. But let a feeble, emaciated, and 
worn-out little lie, or a blustering, braggart fraud, or 
a conceited, coxcombical sham, stray to the right or 
left, or get belated on the march ! I pounce upon him 
like an owl upon a field-mouse. It is my nature to. 
And so the reader must not be surprised, as we journey 
along together, through scene after scene of m}^ story, 
to find herself suddenly left alone at the most unex- 
pected times and places. I'll come back, after a while, 
bringing a scalp ; after which we will jog along to- 
gether, for a chapter or so, again. 

And a jolly, rousing, mad time we shall have of it, 
then. For it is on such occasions that I put my mus- 
tang through his comical paces, — my coal-black mustang, 
with his great, shaggy mane, and bushy, fiowing tail, 
that sweeps the ground. For though, as every school- 
boy knows, a Poet or other Gifted Person is properly 
mounted only on a Pegasus, I have been unable to get 
me one of those winged, high-bounding steeds. 

36. 

And now, fair lady, the manager makes his bow and 
exit. You will soon be in better company. 

One word more, — he begs your pardon. He led you 



44 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

to believe that the opera began at eight, sharp. You 
were there, in your seat, on time, eager to hear the 
first notes of the opening chorus. But I feared that 
had you known there was to be a long overture you 
would have been late, and thereby missed certain leit- 
motifs, not to have heard which would have marred 
what was to follow. Honestly, now, had you known 
that Chapter I. was-not Chapter I., nor chapter of any 
kind, would you have read it? Would you not have 
skipped it, clear and clean (for it's a hundred to one 
that you are a woman), had you known that it was my 
Introduction ? 



SYMPHONY OF LIFE. MOVEMENT I. 

L. VAN Beethoven, "Eroica" Symphony. 




SYMPHONY OF LIFE. 

MOYEMENT I. 



CHAPTEK II. 



As the last rays of the setting sun were gildinor the 
modest spires of Eichmond, early in the month of 
October, 1860, I was sitting with two young ladies at 
the front parlor window of a house on Leigh Street. 
One of these, Lucy Poythress, like myself, was from 
the county of Leicester; or, to speak with entire ex- 
actness, her father's residence was separated from my 
grandfather's, in that county, by a river only. She had 
arrived in Eichmond that morning, on a visit to her 
friend, Alice Carter. A-s the two girls, latelj^ school- 
mates, had not met for three months, and had just 
risen from an excellent dinner, — that notable promoter 
of the affections, — I deem it superfluous to state that 
they were holding each other's hands. 

Also, they were talking. 

" Oh, Lucy !" exclaimed Alice, suddenly starting up, 
" I had forgotten to tell you. I have fallen in love, — 
that is, nearly. I must tell you about it," continued she, 
talking, at the same time, with her lips, her hands, and 
her merry-glancing hazel eyes, — " it was so romantic !" 

"Of course," said I. 

"Ah, don't be jealous!" retorted she, coaxingly. 
" But you see, Lucy, one day last week, as I was cross- 
ing the street, two squares below here, I struck my 

45 



46 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

foot ao-ainst somethinor and fell flat. A book that I 
carried tumbled one way, my veil flew anotber, and — " 

" And some pale, poetic stranger helped you to rise," 
interrupted I. 

" Yes; a gentleman who was meeting me just as I 
fell, and whose face I am sure I had never before seen 
in Richmond, ran forward, lifted mc up, got me my 
book and veil, and, in short, he was so graceful, and 
his voice was so gentle, when he said ' Excuse me,' as 
he lifted me from the ground, that — I confess — I — " 
And dropping her eyes, and with an inimitable sim- 
per on her countenance, she made as though straight- 
ening, between thumb and forefinger, the hem of her 
handkerchief 

"Ah, you are the same dear old Alice still," cried 
Lucy, leaning forward, and, with laughing lips, kissing 
her on the cheek. " And you fell in love with the grace- 
ful stranger?" 

"Yes, indeed, — that is, as much as was becoming in 
a young woman of eighteen summers. By the way, 
Lucy, you too have reached that dignified age since I 
last saw you. Don't you begin to feel ancient ? I do. 
We shall soon be old maids." 

"And the romantic stranger, in that event?" asked 
I. "He, I suppose, will go hurl himself dismally off 
Mayo's bridge. By the way, yonder he comes now." 

I am aware that the barest insinuation of the kind 
is flouted and scouted by the lovelier portion of man- 
kind ; but among men it is alwaj^s frankly admitted 
that women are not destitute of curiosity. 

" Yonder he comes now," said I, languidly, as one who 
had dined well. Two lovely heads shot instantly out 
of the window. 

"Where? where?" 

"There," said I; "that tall chap with the heavy 
beard, on the other side of the street." 

"Well, upon my word," cried Alice, "'tis the very 
man ! How on earth did you know it was he ? You 
didn't? Really and truly? How strange! Oh, if he 
w^ould only cross the street and walk past our window ! 
There, I believe — no — yes, here he comes across! How 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 47 

nice ! What on earth makes him carry his hat in his 
hand ?" 

" Is that really your graceful friend ?" asked I, grow- 
ing interested. 

" It is certainly he ; I am sure I am not mistaken." 

The Unknown was crossing the street in a very 
leisurely, or rather abstracted, manner, evidently ab- 
sorbed in thought, — or the lack of it, — for extremes 
meet. With hat in hand and chin pressed upon his 
breast, he sauntered along with the air of one who is 
going nowhere, and cares not when he reaches his des- 
tination. When he reached the lamp-post at the cor- 
ner, not over tw^enty or thirty yards li'om where we 
stood, he stopped, hung his hat on the back of his head, 
and drew from his breast-pocket a pencil and a piece of 
stiff-looking paper. This he held against the lamp-post, 
and appeared to write or draw. 

We drew back a little from the window. 

" What on earth is he going to do ?" exclaimed 
Alice. 

"He is doubtless inditing an ode," said I, "in com- 
memoration of last week's romantic interview. 'Lines 
to a fallen angel,' perhaps." This witticism passed un- 
heeded. 

" The man's crazy !" said Alice. 

The Unknown had thrown his head back, and, with 
his eyes nearly closed, was gently tapping the air with 
the pencil in a kind of rhythm. 

"Did you ever!" ejaculated Alice. 

"Did you ever!" echoed Lucy. 

"Well, I never!" mocked I. 

"St!" 

We drew still farther away from the window. He 
was going to pass us. Pencil and paper are again in 
breast-pocket, hat in hand, chin upon breast. 

"Isn't he nice and tall!" 

"Yes; and what shoulders!" 

" How strong he looks ; and without an ounce of su- 
perfluous flesh !" 

" How distinguished-looking !" 

So chirruped these twain, — I, meanwhile, interject- 



48 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

ing such interruptions as I could think of. "No one 
ever says of me that I haven't an ounce of superfluous 
flesh." 

" Nor ever will, unless you go as a missionary among 
the Feejeeans," retorted Alice. 

You see I am rather — but no matter about me. 

At the edge of the sidewalk, and nearly opposite the 
window at which tvq were standing, was an oblong 
carriage-block of granite, and upon this was seated, at 
this juncture, a sister of Lucy's, — a little girl of nearly 
four years of age, playing with a set of painted squares 
of wood, known in the nursery as " blocks," which had 
been presented to her by her godmother, Mrs. Carter, at 
whose special request the little thing had been brought 
to Eichmond. Her country nurse was standing a few 
paces distant, dressed out in her finest, airing her best 
country manners for the bedazzlement of a city beau 
of her acquaintance (as having been formerly of her 
county), a mulatto barber who had chanced to pass that 
way, and had stopped for a chat about old times. The 
Unknown had not observed the little girl till, in his 
listless way, he had sauntered to within a few feet of 
her, when, catching sight of the mass of sunny curls 
that poured over her neck and shoulders (her back 
was turned towards him), he stopped, and seeing what 
her occupation was and hearing the babbling of her 
little tongue as she agreed with herself, now upon this 
plan, now on that, upsetting one structure almost 
before it was begun for another which was to share 
a like fate; gazing upon tliis little scene, a look of 
pleased interest, not unmingled with sadness, came into 
his face. 

" He is a married man," said I. 

"Say not so!" cried Alice, with a tragic air. 

"But his wife's dead," I added. 

" I breathe again !" intoned Alice, in the same vein. 

"Oh, Alice!'' said Lucy, with gentle reproachfulness. 

" Why, of course, Lucy," began Alice, throwing her- 
self into an argumentative attitude, " of course I do not 
really rejoice at the poor woman's death ; but how can 
you expect me to grieve over a person I never — " 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 49 

"You are a greater scamp than ever," said Lucy, 
laughingly stopping her friend's mouth with her hand. 

The little architect felt that some one stood behind 
her, and, turning her head and judging with that un- 
erring infantile instinct that he was a friend, she gave 
him a number of those irresistible little looks, with 
which every one is familiar, half coy, half coquettish, 
which showed that, young though she was, her name 
was woman. Ladies at her time of life do not appreci- 
ate the necessity of introductions as preliminary to 
conversation with gentlemen. 

" Build me a house !" cried she to the stranger, run- 
ning towards him and looking now into his face, now 
at her blocks, with a smile half expectation, half 
timidity. 

" I build you a house ? Why, certainl3^ little brown 
eyes!" — taking her plump cheeks between his hands 
and gazing down into her upturned face with a smile 
that was singularl}^ tender and bright; and all the 
more striking, as it gleamed forth with something of 
the suddenness of a flash of sunlight bursting through 
a cloud. It had been easy to see, indeed, as he ap- 
proached us more nearly, that his preoccupations were 
not of a pleasant character. His slightly compressed 
lips imparted a shade of grimness to his look, and the 
mingled expression of weariness and resolution upon 
his features seemed to reveal some struggle going on in 
his breast. 

"Well, now," said he, taking up a few of the blocks 
as he seated himself upon the stepping-stone, " what 
kind of a house shall we build?" 

" Did 5^ou ever!" looked we, all of us! 

" We-e-'ll, we-e-'ll — we'll m-a-k-e — let me tell you — " 

" Saint Paul's Church ?" suggested the stranger, — 
"with a great, tali steeple!" 

" 1^-0-0-0 ! People don't live in churches! M-a-k-e 
me — m-a-k-e me — oh ! make me one just like our 
house!" cried she, with sudden triumph, placing her 
hand upon her new-found friend's shoulder, thrusting 
her face almost against his, and opening wide at him 
her great brown eyes, as much as to say, I^ow we 
c d 5 



50 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

have it I And away she skipped, backwards, on the 
tips of her toes, clapping her dimpled hands; chirping 
forth, meanwhile, sundry joyous, inarticulate notes ; 
which I shall not merely say were as sweet as the 
song of the birds, — for they were warblings from the 
heart of a happy child, — which notes, I take it, are the 
loveliest that float upward into the dome of the high 
heavens, — and blessed whose fingers avail to call them 
forth ! 

" Well, then," began he, gathering together his blocks, 
" here are our bricks." 

" Bricks /" cried she, in a voice that was almost shrill 
with surprise. "Why, it is not a brick house!" 

" Why, yes," said he, carelessly glancing towards the 
house in which we were. 

" Lor' me, that's not our house ! Did you think that 
was our house? Oh, how funny!" cried she, gleefully 
triumphing in her superior knowledge ; then, running 
towards the open window, behind the curtains of whicb 
the amused spectators of this scene had retired, " Sis- 
ter Lucy !" exclaimed she, " what do you think ! This 
gentleman thought this was our house, and we are just 
on a visit here ! Sister Luc}^ ! Sister Lucy I Sister 
L-u-u-u-c-y !" 

Not receiving any reply from that alarmed young 
person, who had fled with me into one corner of the 
room, and with appalled look and appealing gestures 
was endeavoring to check the convulsive tittering of 
her friend Alice, who, in another corner, stood bowed 
together, weak and weeping with suppressed laughter, 
the little girl turned to her friend and said, "Sister 
Lucy has gone up-stairs, I reckon." 

"Thither Luth}^ hath dawn up-thtairs, I weckon," — 
that was the way she said it; but words so distorted, 
charm, as they may, when they fall, like crumpled rose- 
leaves, from the fair portals of a child's mouth, can 
please the eye of a phonetic reformer only. And so 
with the reader's consent, — in fact, as a compliment to 
her, — I shall leave, in the main, such transformations 
to her fancy. 

Besides, how utterly unintelligible would be a dia- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 51 

logue, so printed, to the very person for whose benefit, 
chiefly, this work has been undertaken. In his iUu* 
rained day, you know, infants will have ceased to lisp. 
The stranger had risen from his seat with rather a 
startled look, but upon this reassuring suggestion of 
his little friend, resumed it. 

"You love your sister Lucy ever so much, I sup- 
pose ?" 

" Oh, yes, indeed. Mr. Whacker does, too." 

This remark produced a profound sensation upon 
tvvo, certainl}', of the eavesdroppers. Lucy, who was 
diffidence itself, blushed to the roots of her hair; while 
an uncomfortable consciousness of looking foolish took 
possession of me. Alice, holding her sides, fell ex- 
hausted upon a sofa. 

"Mr. who?" asked he, with a sudden look of interest 
which startled us all. 

"Mr. Whacker; don't you know Mr. Whacker?" 

"Maybe so; what kind of a man is he?" 

" Oh, he is a nice man, and he is so funny, — he makes 
me nearij^ dead with laughing." 

"Does your sister Lucv love this nice, funny Mr. 
Whacker?" ^ 

Lucy looked perfectly aghast. 

"Yes, she do." 

"She do, do she?" echoed the Unknown; while rip- 
ples of merriment danced about his singularly intense 
and glowing eyes, like those on the dark waters of 
some deep lake. 

"Did she ever tell you so?" 

" Y-e-e-e-es," replied she, doubtfulh^. 

" Mr. Whacker, I assure you," began Luc}^, choking 
with mortification, "I — " 

" I forgive, though I can never fonxet — " 

" But—" 

" St !" whispered Alice ; " it is as good as a play !" 

"But, Alice, it's a most outrageous — " 

" Never mind, — listen !" 

Meantime, we had lost a few sentences of the col- 
loquy, which seemed to be affording intense amusement 
to the Stranger. 



52 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"But what did she say?" were the first words wo 
caught. 

" She said," began the little thing, gesticulating with 
her hands and rolling her eyes, — speaking, in fact, with 
her whole body, — "sister Lucv, she said — ". 

" Well." 

" Sister Lucy, she said Mr. Whacker was mighty fat, 
but he was right pretty." 

Imagine the scene behind the curtains ! The trouble 
was that Lucy, who was as truthful as Epaminondas, 
could not deny having paid me, in substance, this two- 
edged compliment. So she could only bury her face 
in her hands. As for the Stranger, he actually laughed 
aloud. 

" But do ladies always love pretty men ?" 

" Why, yes ; I love my sweetheart, and he is pretty." 

"Your sweetheart! Have you a sweetheart?" 

"Yes," replied she, with decision and complacency. 

"What's his name?" 

"I can't tell you!" 

"Do, now." 

" Oh, I can't P' And she dropped her cheek on her off 
shoulder and shut her ej^es. 

" Say, do you like candy ?" 

"Yes," said she, eagerlj^ wheeling round; "where is 
it?" 

" Never mind. If jow will tell me, I will bring you 
some to-morrow." 

"What's in that paper? I 'spec' it's candy, right 
now!" 

"No," said he, smiling; "but I will bring you some 
to-morrow if you will tell me." 

She stuck a finger into her mouth and hung her 
head. 

" Red candy," began he, " and blue candy," he con- 
tinued, nodding his head up and down, between the 
varieties, with a sort of pantomimic punctuation, " and 
green candy — " 

Wide-eyed delight and a half-smile of eager expecta- 
tion illumined the face of the little tempted one. 

"And yellow candy, and — let me see — and striped 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 53 

candy, and speckled candy — and — and — and — ALL 
SORTS OF CANDY!" 

She clasped her hands and drew a long breath. 

" Will you ?" 

The infant that hesitates is lost. 

" And tied up in most beautiful paper — " 

"You won't tell Mr. Whacker?" 

"No, never!!!" 

In an instant the little creature had sprung tow^ards 
him, seized his head, pulled it down, pressed her lips 
against his ear, shot the momentous name therein and 
bounded back. 

" There ! Give me the candy !" 

" I said I should get it to-morrow. But I didn't hear 
a word. Tell me over again. There, — whisper it in 
my ear. Willie? Willie what?" said he, drawing her 
towards him. "Ah, that is the name, is it?" 

We did not hear the name, and I must suppose it was 
that of some near neighbor of her father's. 

"Now, don't tell Mr. Whacker!" 

"No," replied the stranger; but he had heard her 
with the outward ear only. He sat, with drawn lids, 
gazing upon the pavement, and softly biting his nails, 
as though solving some problem. His lips seemed to 
move ; and every now and then he looked, out of the 
corners of his eyes, at his little companion. At last he 
slowly rose, but stood motionless, with eyes fixed upon 
the ground. 

"Oh, don't go!" cried she, her fair, upturned face 
wearing a beautiful expression of infantile affection. 

And here our mysterious friend had another surprise 
in store for us. For, when he saw that look, a startled 
expression came into his face ; and leaning forward, he 
scrutinized her features with a gaze so searching that 
there was a kind of glare in his eyes, — so that the little 
girl dropped her eyes and drew back, as though with 
a feeling of dread. But the Unknown suddenly sat 
down beside her, and, taking one of her hands in both 
his, patted it softly, and, in a voice tender as that of a 
younor mother, asked, " But what is your name, my little 
cherub ?" 

5* 



54 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" My name is Laura. Let's make another house — 
oh, no, let's make a boat!" 

'-Not now. But Laura what? What is your other 
name?" 

" My name is Laura Poythress." 

" Laura Poythress !" 

He bowed his broad shoulders till his face was almost 
on a level with hers, and scanning her features intently : 
"Laura Poythress, Laura Poythress," repeated he, to 
himself; "and Lucy, too! and Whacker!" 

We looked at each other with wide eyes. 

Again the stranger rose; this time with nervous 
abruptness, and took a few rapid turns up and down 
the pavement, close to little Laura ; then walking 
quickly up to her, and stooping down, he asked her, in 
an eager whisper, "Have you any mother?" 

"Yeth," replied she, with a simple little laugh, "of 
courth; evvybody'th dot a muvver!" 

He seemed to avert his face when she laid down this 
generalization ; nor could we, from our position, see his 
expression. " Yes," said he ; and was silent for a while. 
"What is your mother's name?" 

"My mother's name is Mumma." 

" But what is her real sure-enough name ?" 

" Her name is Mumma," repeated she, with emphasis. 
" Oh, my mother's got two names. She is named 
Mumma and she is named Mrs. Poythress." 

"Ah, yes; but what does your father call her?" 

" My papa calls my mumma my dear ; oh, and some- 
times he calls her ' honey,' — because she is so sweet." 

" Does he ever call her — let me see — does he ever call 
her Polly ?" 

" Oh, me, the idea!" cried she, raising her hands and 
eyes in infantile pity of his ignorance. " Why, that's 
Aunt Polly's name !" 

" So your Aunt Polty is named Polly, is she ?" 

"No, she ain't! Aunt Polly is named Aunt Polly. 
She is our cook at our house, she is." 

" She is your cook, is she ? And what does she call 
your mother ?" 

" Mistiss." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 55 

Just then the mulatto barber, passing b}^, doffed his 
hat to the gentleman ; and Dolly, the nurse, left alone, 
bethought her of her charge. Coming up, she dropped 
a courtes}^ to the Stranger, and told Laura it was time 
she were within doors. 

"Grood-by, Laura," said the Unknown, taking her 
plump little hand in his; "won't 3'ou give me a kiss? 
Ah, that's a good little girl! One more! And another! 
Ah!" And he patted her cheek. "Grood-by!" 

" Dood-by !" 



CHAPTER IIL 



We looked at each other, and, although two-thirds 
of us were girls, several seconds passed without a word 
being spoken. 

"Oh, here comes Maiy!" And, looking across the 
way, I saw Marj^ Rolfe briskly tripping down the steps 
of her father's residence. Away scampered Alice and 
Lucy into the hall ; not to unlock the front door for 
Marj", for that, Richmond-fashion, stood wide open ; but 
impelled by that instinctive conviction, never entirely 
absent from the female breast, that life is short. I fol- 
lowed with all the dignity of a fledgling counsellor-at- 
law, and possible future supreme justice. 

The three met on the sidewalk and it began, — Eurus^ 
Zephyrusque Notusque. 

All nature is one. Remove the plug from a basin 
and see how the water, instead of pouring straight out 
in a business-like way, spins round and round, just as 
though it knew you were late for breakfast. Behold, 
too, the planets in their courses. And as in a tornado, 
which whirls along through field and forest, across 
mountain-chain and valley, around its advancing storm- 
centre, so in one of those lesser atmospheric disturb- 
ances set up by the conversation, or rather contempo- 
raneousversation, of three or four girls just met (im- 
possible though it be, in the present state of our knowl- 
edge, to determine in advance the precise location of 



56 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

their area of lowest barometric pressure), it is clear, 
even to the eye, that the movement of the girls them- 
selves is cyclonic. And, further, just as, in a storm, the 
area of highest barometer is found to be occupied by a 
more or less tranquil atmosphere, so j^ou shall find 
that the centre of a contemporaneousversation always 
moves forward around a listener, — some weakling of a 
girl, with a bronchitis, perhaps, or, in rare cases, a stam- 
merer. And again, just as a body of air, itself capable 
of levelling houses and uprooting trees, may be forced 
into quiescence by its environment of storm, so may a 
really worthy girl, not otherwise inferior, be reduced to 
silence by despair. 

This, in fact, was the case with Lucy in the present 
instance. As the lovely human cyclone, whose outward 
sign was a world of fluttering ribbons and waving 
flounces, came whirling up the steps, through the hall, 
and into the parlor, it was obvious that she was the 
pivot around which it revolved. 

In plain English, she found it impossible to get in a 
word. 

It appears that Marj^ had seen, from her window, the 
Unknown, and watched his strange performances till 
he was gone. She had not seen us at our window, and 
tripping across the street to tell her dear Alice what a 
singular man she had seen sitting on her carriage- 
block, and talking with Laura, she had found that Alice 
had seen and heard more than she. And so, with that 
instinctive dread of loss of time so characteristic of the 
sex, they both, when they met on the sidewalk, began 
talking at once. They began talking to each other ; but 
soon, their words, in obedience to that law of which Mr. 
Herbert Spencer makes so much (that moving bodies 
always follow the line of least resistance), began flow- 
ing into Lucy's ears. jS"ot that Mary took possession 
of one ear, Alice of the other. Eather did they, in obe- 
dience to law, revolve around her, as the earth around 
the sun, the moon round the earth, water round its 
exit, pouring their tidings into either Organ with im- 
partial eagerness. 

It may excite wonder among my male readers that 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 57 

Alice should have told Lucy things that she knew the 
latter had seen with her own eyes. But this would be 
hardly putting the case fairly, as her remarks were 
couched rather in the form of exclamatory comments 
than of pure narrative. The male reader, again (would 
that there were no such dull animals in the world !), 
must be warned not to suppose that Alice and Mary 
were rude in talking simultaneously. It is discourteous, 
oh, crass mortal, for one man to interrupt another ; but 
where a party of girls are met together, it will be found 
that the words of each, though many, are no impedi- 
mejit, but a stimulus, rather, to those of the rest. 

Like swallows at eventide, circling around some vil- 
lage chimney, the more of them in the air at once, the 
more merrily do they flit. 

And it will be found, too, that no matter how many 
have been talking at once, each will have heard what 
all have said. 

It is when I contemplate this well-known phenome- 
non that my wonder daily grows that no allusion has 
ever been made to this acknowledged superiority of 
the female over the male homo, by what are called 
the woman-women, in their annual pow-wows in the 
interest of their sex. Cropped-haired woman after 
cropped-haired woman will arise, reinforced, here and 
there, by some mild-eyed male, o'er whose sloping 
shoulders soft ringlets cluster, and the burden of the 
plaint of she-he and he-she, alike, will be only that 
woman is unjustly excluded by man from this employ- 
ment or that privilege, for which she is as well fitted as 
he. They seem to me to forget that Hannibal was not 
overcome till Africa was invaded ; and they will never 
advance their cause till they find some female Scipio to 
put man upon the defensive, and aggressively insist 
that the real question is not whether she is capable of 
becoming lawyer, physician, preacher, but whether he 
is, or, at any rate, will be, in the re-fashioned world 
which is coming, fit for any avocation whatever. 

Let us take the legal profession for an example. Ex- 
cluding the male lawyer of the period, as an interested 
witness, who can fail to sec how much would be gained 



58 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

were our judges, our counsel, and our jurymen all 
women? As things actually stand, the law's delay has 
passed into a proverb. But what delay could there be 
in a trial wherein all the witnesses could be examined 
simultaneously, without a word being lost on the jury; 
where the learned (and lovely) counsel could sum up 
side by side (like a pair of well-matched trotters), 
neither of them getting in the first word, neither (what 
fairness!) being allowed the last? Again. Instead of a 
drowsy Bench, hearing nothing, seeing nothing, you 
would have an alert Sofa, capable of lending one ear to 
the plaintiff's counsel, one to the defendant's ; taking in, 
with one eye, everj'^ convolution of the jury's back-hair 
(should such things be), while with the other, she — 
the Court — estimated the relative good looks of the liti- 
gants, preparatory to instructing the jury and laying 
down the law. And so of the other professions, did 
sj^ace allow. 

But this is not the worst of the matter. Already 
have advanced thinkers begun dimly to see that, with 
the approaching extinction of war, the time will come 
when courage will be worse than useless ; while, in the 
rapid multiplication of labor-saving machinery, there is 
discernible the inevitable approach of an era when 
superior strength will be a disadvantage. For is not 
strength assimilated food? And in the Struggle for 
Existence will not She, requiring less food, and being 
therefore Fittest, survive ? So that, with Seer's eye, I 
seem to behold the day when my sex, excluded from 
ever}^ avocation, shall perish from off the face of that 
earth over which we have so long and so haughtily 
lorded. 

The truth is, my dear lad (would that you were a 
girl!), I shudder when I think of your fate and that of 
your brother males, three hundred years from now. 
Preserved here and there in the zoological gardens of 
the wealthy and the curious, along with rare specimens 
of the bison of the prairie, skeletons of the American 
Indian and the dodo; exhibited in mammoth moral 
shows, and meeting the stare of the unnumbered 
female of the period with a once wicked, but now, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 59 

alas ! futile wink, you will ruo the day when your an- 
cestors, mistaking might for right, excluded woman 
from that haven of rest, the ballot-box. Why, it was 
but the other day that I saw a boy with a basketful 
of pups, which he was going to drown; and on my 
asking him why he condemned them to this fate, he 
answered, in the simplest way, " Oh, they are nothing 
but she's.'' 

Yet we are never tired of boasting of our nineteenth 
century ! 

How the world is to be kept wagging when once the 
custom is established of drowning all the boy-babies 
(except specimens for menageries and preserves), is a 
problem for the science of the future. It suffices that 
I have recorded my views upon this burning question. 

And upon this plank of my platform you, m}^ grand- 
son-to-the-tenth-power, will, I trust, be allowed to float 
by the womankind of your day, in remembrance of 
my gallant defence of their rights in mine. Yes, yes, 
you will be one of the elect and undrowned! 



CHAPTEH lY. 



"Oh!" cried Alice, springing up from the piano-stool. 
" But, Mar}^, I have not told you that he was the iden- 
tical man who lifted me up the other day when I fell 
in the street." 

"You don't tell me so!" 

" Yes, indeed, the very man ; and, strangest of all, he 
seemed to know something about us, or at least about 
Lucy and Mr. Whacker." And she related the strange 
doings and sayings of the Unknown just previous to 
the close of his interview with Laura. 

" How very provoking," cried Mary, impatiently, 
" that I should have been prevented from dining with 
you girls by the arrival of that stupid old cousin Wil- 
liam, as mother will persist in calling him, though, in 



60 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

my opinion, ho is about as nearly related to us as the 
man in the moon! Pshaw!" And she stamped her foot. 

"Yes, indeed, I am too sorr}^. Why, Mary, it would 
have done" — and her irrepressible eyes began to 
twinkle — " for a scene in that novel which — " 

" Now, Alice — " began Mary, reddening. 

" Which I am thinking of writing," continued Alice, 
innocently. " Why, what's the matter ?" 

"Oh!" 

" Is Mary writing a novel ?" asked Lucy, with eager 
interest; for she remembered that she had been always 
regarded as the genius of the school. 

" I spoke of the novel which I was writing," per- 
sisted Alice. 

" Yes, but—" 

" It is a maxim of the common law. Miss Lucy," re- 
marked the learned counsel, with ponderous gravity, 
"that all shall be held innocent till proven guilty. But 
should novel-writing ever be made (as seems inevitable) 
a statutory offence, I hold it as probable that this ruling 
will be reversed, and the presumption of the law ad- 
judged, in the present state of literature, to lie the 
other Avay, — in plain English, that the onus probandi 
innocentiam would be held to rest upon the prisoner at 
the bar," 

The two other girls laughed, but Mary rewarded my 
diversion in her support with a grateful smile. 

"To think I should have missed it!" 

"Oh, I forgot to tell you. Come over and dine with 
us to-morrow, and you will have a chance of seeing 
him." 

"How is that?" asked Mary, with dancing eyes. 

" Why, he has promised to bring Laura some candy 
to-morrow evening, and we can all have another look 
at him." 

"Oh, I wonder if he will come?" cried Mary, de- 
spondingly. 

" I have no doubt of it, for he seems in some strange 
way as much interested in us as we in him. At any 
rate, you will dine with us. Mr. Whacker will of 
course do likewise." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 61 

The reader will please imagine the dinner in question 
over, the three young ladies eagerly watching, up and 
down the street, through the slats of the closed Vene- 
tian blinds, while Mrs. Carter and myself, too dignified 
to manifest our curiosity so clearly, held ourselves in 
the rear as a sort of reserve. Laura, our little decoy, 
was trotting, meanwhile, from room to room, singing 
and babbling; having, in fact, entirely forgotten the 
Stranger and his promise. It had been decided in a 
council of war not to remind her of it till our man was 
seen approaching, when she was to be sent out in a 
casual way to intercept him. 

"Gracious, here he is!" exclaimed all three of the 
girls at once. " Where is Laura ?" 

" Laura ! Laura ! Laura !" cried Alice, in a suppressed 
voice. '' Mother ! Mr. Whacker ! somebody bring Laura, 
please." 

It appears that the Unknown, instead of making his 
approach by way of Leigh Street, as we somehow ex- 
pected, had suddenly turned into that thoroughfare 
from the cross-street. The girls from their position 
commanded a view of this cross-street for some dis- 
tance, looking towards the south, as the Carters' resi- 
dence was but one remove from the corner. Strange 
to say, however, the gentleman emerged into Leigh 
Street from the north, as though returning from" a 
walk in the country, and thus came upon the girls 
without warning. The reserves, forgetting their dig- 
nity, scampered off in their search for Laura. She, 
meanwhile, ignorant of her importance, was sitting in 
the back yard, building mounds upon a pile of sand 
that lay there, and before she could be found the 
stranger had passed. He turned and looked back sev- 
eral times, and when he reached the end of the block 
he stoj^ped, and, turning, looked for some time in our 
direction. Meanwhile, I, having secured the little 
truant, was hurrying to the front, while Mrs. Carter, 
plump and jovial soul, was not far behind me. 

"Make haste! make haste!" cried Alice, who, with 
Mary, had in her impatience found her way into the 
hall. " Make haste, or he will be gone. Come, Laura, 



62 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

the gentleman with the candy is out there. There, 
quick!" she added, with a little push ; and Laura trotted 
out with pleased alacrity. 

"Too late!" sighed Lucy from behind the shutters, 
where she had been placed for purposes of safe obser- 
vation. "Too late! he has moved on." 



CHAPTEE Y. 



That evening, as I bade the fiimil}^ good-night, after 
with some difficulty escaping from Mrs. Carter's urgent 
invitation to dine with them again next day, I agreed 
to call immediately after dinner, so as to be on hand 
should the Stranger, as we thought likely, return in 
search of Laura. Nor were we disappointed ; and this 
time, warned by the failure of the preceding da}^, we 
bad kept Laura well in hand ; so that she was ready 
on the front steps as he was passing. 

The two friends smiled as their eyes met. 

" Where is it ?" asked she, a sudden cloud of anxiety 
veiling her young face,— for, with those of her age, not 
seeing is not believing. 

"Never mind!" said he, tapping his breast-pocket 
with a knowing air ; and she hurried down the steps 
as best she could. 

He unbuttoned his coat and slowly inserted his hand 
into his breast-pocket. 

" Pull it out !" cried she. 

"I feel something!" said he, with mystery in his 
tones. 

"Yes!" answered she, skipping about with clasped 
hands. 

" What is it ?" And there was a rattling, as of stiff 
paper, down in the depths of his pocket. 

" Candy !" cried she, with a shout, capering higher 
than ever. 

He withdrew the package from his pocket with a 
slowness which made her dance with impatience; opened 



THE STORV OF DON MIFF. 63 

ono end, peeped into it cautiously, and gave her a beam- 
ing look of delighted surprise. 

"Let me look, too!" cried she; and he held it down. 
She, peeping in, returned his look of surprised delight. 

What would life be without its fictions ! 

"It's candy!" cried she; and seizing the package, 
and putting a piece into her mouth, she made for the 
steps. 

" Why, where are you going?" 

" 1 am going to show my candy to sister Lucy," re- 
plied she, munching. 

" Won't you give me a piece ?" 

"Tes," replied she, toddling back with alacrity. 
"Don't take a big piece," cautioned she, when she saw 
him examining the contents of the precious package. 
" Take a little piece." 

The stranger smiled. " Laura," said he, " there is a 
good deal of human nature in man ; don't you think 

BO?" 

" Yeth, ma'am," replied she, abstractedly ; with one 
hand thrusting into her mouth a second piece, while 
with the other she reached down into the bag for a third. 

" You seem to like candy ?" 

"Yeth, I doeth," without looking up. 

" Come," said he, taking the package and closing it ; 
" if you eat it all, you won't have any to show your 
sister Lucy ; besides, it will make you sick." 

"Candy don't never make me sick. I can show 
sister Lucy the booful bag what the candy came in. 
Where is the speckled candy?" 

" Oh, the man didn't have any." 

" If he has any, another to-morrow, will you make 
him send me some?" 

" Oh, yes ; but let's talk a little." 

" May I have another little piece ?" 

" There 1 So you are the little girl who doesn't know 
what her mother's name is ?" 

"Yes, I does; my mother's name is named Laura. 
My mother is named the same as me. My name is 
Laura, too." 

Our coachino; had told. 



64: THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"So your mother's name is Laura, is it?" And the 
stranger nodded his head slowly up and down. " And 
where is your mother now?" 

" She is at our house." 

"And where is your house?" 

" Our house is where my mother is. The're is a river 
where our house is. Don't you like to sail in a boat on 
a river? I'm going to take another piece." And with 
a roguish, though hesitating smile, she began to insert 
her dimpled hand into the bag. 

The stranger was looking upon the ground, and 
heeded neither the smile nor the movement against 
the bag. 

" Where do you go in your boat ?" 

She mentioned the name of a neighbor of my grand- 
father's, across the river from her home. 

"And where else?" 

Another of our neighbors. The stranger repeated 
the two names with satisfaction. 

" And w^here else ?" 

He never once lifted his eyes from the pavement; 
and there was a sort of suppressed eagerness in his 
voice that thrilled us all with a strange excitement, we 
knew not why. 

" We sail in our boat to see Uncle Tom." [Many of 
the young people in our neighborhood called my grand- 
father by this name.] 

" Oh, you mean your Uncle Tom — let me see," — and 
a faint smile illumined his face, — " you mean your Uncle 
Tom — MuUigins ?" 

" No-o-o-o ! Minty -pepper ain't dood. It stings my 
mouf." 

" Ah, yes, I know, — you sail in your boat to — see — • 
your — Uncle Tom — Higginbotham." 
• Perhaps she dimly perceived that he was drolling ; 
at any rate, she doubled herself up with an affected 
little laugh. 

"No, I will tell you," said he, raising his eyes to her 
face, — " it is your Uncle Tom Whacker." 

The audience half rose from their seats. " Why, who 
can he be?" exclaimed Mrs. Carter. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 65 

"Yes, that's bis right name, — Uncle Mr. Whacker. 
I calls him Uncle Tom. He is a hundred years old, I 
reckon. My sister loves Mr. Uncle Whacker some, 
but she loves Mr. — Mr. — Mr. Fat Whacker the most." 
[Sensation !] 

As this is the second remark of this character on 
Laura's part that I have recorded, it is high time that 
I explained that the idea had naturally enough arisen 
in her mind from hearing Mary and Alice rally her 
sister upon the increased frequency of my visits to the 
Carters' since her arrival in town. 

" Do you love me some ?" 

"Yes, I loves you a heap!" 

"And I loves you a heap, too," said he; and vStoop- 
ing, he kissed her several times. "And now 1 suppose 
you had better run in and show your candy to your 
sister Lucy." 

"All wight!" said she; and she toddled off. 



CHAPTER YL 



The morning following these occurrences, and for 
several days thereafter, I had occasion to be absent 
from town. Calling at the Carters' on the evening of 
my return, I found that the daily visits of the myste- 
rious stranger had not been interrupted. There was, 
however, nothing of special interest to report. The 
interviews with Laura had been short, and marked only 
by the invariable production of the package of candy. 
When I expressed fears for that young lady's digestion, 
I learned that, owing to a like solicitude, the girls had 
shared the danger with Laura so magnanimously that 
her health was in no immediate peril. 

" Here are still some of the remains of to-day's spoil," 
said Alice, handing me a collapsed package. 

"Well," said I, "now that you have seen him so 
often, what do you think of him ? What are your the- 
ories ?" 

e 6* 



66 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" Tliere are as many opinions as there are girls," said 
Mrs. Carter. " What is mine? Well, I should suppose 
that I was too old to express an opinion upon such 
romantic affairs. But one thing I will say, he is un- 
doubtedly a gentleman." 

"Oh, thank yon, mamma!" cried Alice, running up 
to her mother and kissing her on the cheek with what 
the French call effusion, — "thank you!" 

" And what are you up to now, Eattle-brain ?" asked 
her mother, looking at her daughter with a smile full 
of affectionate admiration. 

" You see, Mr. Whacker," said Alice, turning to me 
with earnest gravity in her eyes, under which their 
irrepressible twinkle could have been discernible only 
to those who knew her well, — "^^ou see I have been in 
love with him ever since I first saw him, and I infer 
from mamma's remark that should anything ever come 
of it, I should find in her an ally." 

"Well, we shall see," said her mother, laughing. 

"And what does Miss Mary think of him?" 

"Oh, I'll tell 3^ou," promptly began Alice. "Mary, 
who is, you know, of a very romant — " 

"Suppose, Miss Chatterbox, you will be so good," 
interrupted her mother, " as to let Mary speak for her- 
self." 

" 'Tis ever thus," sighed Alice, pouting, "never 
allowed to open my poor little mouth !" 

" I give you permission now," said Mary. " Tell Mr. 
Whacker, if j^ou know, what I think of the Don." 

" The who ?" 

" The Don ; that's what we call him." 

"What! is he a Spaniard?" 

"Not at all. You must know, we put Laura up to 
asking him his name, and she brought back the drollest 
one imaginable, — 'Don Miff*.' Think of it! But of course 
Laura got it all wrong ; that could not be any human 
being's name, — of course not." 

" The Don part of it," broke in Alice, " has confirmed 
Mary in her previously entertained opinion that he was 
a nobleman of some sort travelling incog.; it would be 
so novelly, you know; though what good it could do 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 67 

her I cannot conceive, even were it so, for it was I who 
* sighted' him first ; it was I to whom he first offered 
his hand; mark that! it was I who first fell in love 
with him; and I wish it distinctly understood that as 
against the present company" — and she made a sweep- 
ing courtesy — " he — is — MINE !" 

" I waive all my rights," said I. 

"Yes; hut I don't know how it will be with these 
girls, particularly Mary ; for Mary is, in my opinion, 
already infatuated, — yes, infatuated with this Don Miff, 
as he calls himself." 

" Why, Alice, how can you say so ?" But an explo- 
sion all around the circle aroused Mary to the con- 
sciousness that once more and for the thousand and 
first time she had failed to detect the banter that lay in 
ambush behind her friend's assumed earnestness. "Oh, 
I knew you couldn't mean it," said she, with a faint 
smile. " The truth is, Mr. Whacker," continued she, 
" I am not sure that I altogether like this mysterious 
Bon. Do you know, Alice, I should be afraid of 
him?" 

" Afraid of him ! Why, pray ?" 

" Well, perhaps I am jumping at conclusions, as they 
say we women all do ; but, unless I am greatly mistaken, 
that man, while he might be a very staunch friend, is 
certainly capable of proving a most unrelenting foe." 

" Oh, I am sure you do him injustice," said Lucy. 

This young woman was not a great talker; but 
whenever the absent needed a defender, the suftering 
a friend, or the down-trodden a champion, that gentle 
voice was not wanting. 

" I am sure nothing could surpass the gentleness of 
his manner towards little Laura." 

" Yery true," rejoined Mary ; " but have you not no- 
ticed the expression of his eyes at times, when he is 
pacing to and fro, as he did for some time yesterday, 
reviewing in his mind, I should judge, some event in 
his past life ? Every now and then there would come 
into them a look so stern and bitter as to give his 
countenance an expression which might almost be 
called ferocious." 



68 THE STORV OF DON MIFF. 

" Oh, Mr. Whacker, I think Marj^'s imagination must 
be running away with her," broke in Lucj^. "Now let 
me tell you of an incident which all of us witnessed 
one day while you were absent. The day had been 
damp and raw ; and just as Mr. Don Mitf — I don't won- 
der at 3'our laughing, — was there ever such a name 
before ? What was I saying? Ah ! there came on one 
of those cold October rains just as the Don was going 
away. He had taken but a few steps when his atten- 
tion was arrested by the whining of a little dog across 
the street. What kind of a dog did you say it was, 
Mrs. Carter?" 

" It was a Mexican dog, a wretched little thing, of a 
breed w^hich is almost entirely destitute of hair. Our 
volunteers brought home some of them, as curiosities, 
on their return from the Mexican war. The one Lucy 
is speaking of is very old, and is, likely enough, the 
last representative of his species in the city." 

" Well," resumed Lucy, " the poor, little, naked crea- 
ture was whining piteously in the rain, and pawing 
against that alley -gate over yonder by that large tree; 
and when this ferocious man, whom Mary thinks so 
terrible, saw him, he stopped, then moved on, then 
stopped again, and at last, seeing that the little thing 
had been shut out, he actually walked across the street 
and opened the gate for him !" 

" That was ver}^ sweet of my Don !" chimed in Alice. 

" Yes," urged Lucy, with gentle warmth, " you 
girls may laugh, and you, Mr. Whacker, may smile — " 

" Upon my word — " 

" Oh, I saw you — but the ferocity of a man who is 
tender with children and kind to brutes is ferocity of 
a very mild form, and I — " 

"Speech! speech!" cried Alice, clapping her hands. 
And Lucy sank back in her chair, blushing at her own 
eloquence. 

"Order! order! ladies and gentlemen," cried Alice, 
gravely tapping on the table with a spool. " Sister 
Eolfe, the convention would be pleased to hear from 
you, at this stage of the proceedings, a continuation of 
your very edifying observations touching the lord Don 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 69 

Miffs exceedingly alarming ej-es. Sister Eolfe has the 
floor — order! The chair must insist that the fat lady 
on the sofa come to order !" 

The last remark was levelled at her mother, who had 
a singular way of laughing; to wit, shaking all over, 
without emitting the slightest sound, while big tears 
rolled down her cheeks. Alice was the idol of her 
heart, and her queer freaks of vivacious drollery often 
set her mother off, as at present, into uncontrollable 
undulations of entirely inaudible laughter. 

" The fixt lad}' on the sofa, I am happ}^ to be able to 
announce to the audience, is coming to." 

"Yes," said Mrs. Carter, wiping her eyes, "and do 
you cease your crazy pranks till the fat lady gets her 
breath. What were you going to say, Mary?" 

" 1 was going to saj^ that 1 am glad I said what I 
did, if for no other reason than that it afforded us all 
another opportunity of. seeing how kind and charitable 
is Lucy's heart." 

" Yes," said Alice, " you elicited from Lucy her maiden 
speech ; which I had never expected to hear in this 
life." 

" But really," continued Mary, " the Don's eyes are 
peculiar. Do you know what I have thought oV, more 
than once, when I have seen their rapidly changing 
expression? I was reminded of certain stars which — " 
" Eeminiscences of our late astronomy class," broke 
in Alice, in a stage whisper. 

Mary smiled, but continued : " of certain stars which 
seem first to shrink and then to dilate, — now growino- 
dark, at the next moment shooting forth bickering 
flames, — at one time — " 

Mary here caught Alice's eye, and could get no 
farther. 

Alice rose slowlj- to her feet and said, gravely waving 
her closed fan as though it had been the wand of a 
showman, "This, ladies and gentlemen, is not a speech, 
but poetry and romance. I would simply observe that 
when a young woman begins by stating that she does 
not like a certain man, and ends by comparing his eyes 
to stars, the last state of that young woman shall be 



70 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

worse than the first. But I am somehow reminded of 
the Moonlight Sonata. Mr. Whacker, I beg you will 
conduct Miss Lucy to the piano." 



CHAPTER YII. 



"What do you think?" said I, the next afternoon, 
as 1 entered the parlor. The young ladies were all 
there ; Lucy, with whom I had an engagement to walk, 
with her bonnet on. 

"Oh, what is it?" 

" What do you suppose ? Guess ?" 

" You have found out who he is !" 

" Not exactly." 

"You have seen him!" 

" Well, yes." 

"Have you met him, — spoken with him?" 

I nodded. 

" Oh, do tell us all about it!" 

" There is not much to tell. Just this moment, on 
my way here, I came upon Laura and her nurse and 
the Don standing at the corner. Laura did not ob- 
serve me till I was close to her, but, as soon as she did, 
she ran up and took hold of my hand, and said, point- 
ing straight at the Don, 'He's the one what gives me 
the candy ;' and, immediately releasing my hand, she 
ran up and seized that of the so-called Don Miff, and, 
looking up into his face, said, 'That ain't Uncle Mr. 
Whacker. That's Mr. Fat Whacker. He's the one 
what' — " And I paused. 

"Oh, please go on!" cried Alice and Marj^; while 
Lucy colored slightly. 

" I think I shall have to leave that as a riddle to be 
worked out at our leisure." 

"Oh, the terrible infant! What did you say? what 
could you say ?" 

" I scarcely know what I did or did not say. He 
spoke first, saying something about the originality of 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 71 

Laura's mode of introducing people, and I made some 
confused, meaningless repl}-, and then, after we had 
exchanged a few commonplaces — " 

"Miss Luc}-!" broke in a voice; and, looking up, we 
saw, thrust in at the partly-open parlor-door, the face 
of Molly, the nurse. "Miss Lucy, won't you please, 
ma'am, step here a minute?" 

The broad grin on her face excited curiosity, while 
it allayed alarm. 

" \Vh3-, what's the matter, Molly?" 

"I)at gent'mun say—" And Molly was straightway 
overcome by an acute attack of the Lno-ffles. 

" What ?" ^ ""^ 

"Lat 'ere gent'mun he axed me to ax de lady o' de 
house ef he moucrht'n take Laura round to Pizzini's for 
some ice-cream."* 

This was before the days of the Charley Eoss horror; 
but the proposition threw all the young ladies into a 
ferment, and ejaculation followed ejaculation in rapid 
succession. At last Alice rose, flew up-stairs, and pres- 
ently returned with her mother. 

"What's all this?" began Mrs. Carter. 

"Yes, ma'am, dis is adzactly how 'twas. Laura and 
me, we was a-standin' on the cornder a-lookin', and 
here comes de gent'mun dat's always a-bringin' her de 
candy, and, says he, 'Good-evenin', little Eosebud,' says 
jess so, and 'Howdy do, my gal,' says he, polite-like, 
and says I, 'Sarvant, mahster,' says I, 'I'm about,' says 
I; and den Marse Jack he corned up, and Laura, she 
called Marse Jack out o' he name. 'Lor' me,' says I, 
' chill'un don't know no better.' Howsomdever, I told 
her, I did, 'Heish!' says I, easy-like, and 'Mind 3-our 
raisin,' says I, jess as I tell you, and Marse Jack will 
say de same ; and Marse Jack he corned on here to de 
house, and we was a-standin' on de cornder, and de 
gent'mun says, 'Laura,' says he, 'I ain't got no candy 
lor you to-daj', but I want you to go wid me to Piz- 



* In my occasional attempts at representing the negro dialect I shall 
(as I have already done in the case of Laura's prattle) hold a middle 
course between the true and the intelli-riblc. 



72 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

zini's to get some ice-cream and cake ; and won't you go, 
my gal,' says he, ' an' ax de lady of the house, down 
3^onder, ef I mought'n take little Laura to Pizzini's?' 
Dat's jess what he said, he did, jess as I tell you, mum; 
and Laura she clap her hands, she did, and ' Come on, 
less go,' says she, widout waitin' for nothin' nor no- 
bod}^, she did." 

A brisk discussion, with opinions about equally di- 
vided, now sprang up as to the propriety of acceding 
to the request of the stranger ; but upon Molly's stating 
that the gentleman expected her to accompany Laura, 
a strong majority voted in the affirmative; and when 
the little lady herself, unable to control her impatience, 
came bustling into the parlor, her curls dancing, her 
cheeks glowing, her eyes sparkling with expectancy, 
the proposition was carried unanimously; to the ob- 
vious satisfaction of Molly, who lost no time in sally- 
ing forth with her little charge. 

"There ihay go!" said Lucy, who was peeping 
through the blinds; " the Don and Laura hand in hand, 
and Molly bringing up the rear. Ah, how the little 
thing is capering with delight! Ah, girls, run here and 
see how the little woman is strutting ! Now he is point- 
ing out to her a cow and calf" 

And so, as long as they remained in sight, she chron- 
icled their doings. 

As Lucy and I were leaving the house for our walk, 
some one suggested — it was Mary, I believe — that it 
would be as well to shadow, in detective phrase, the 
Don; but she firmly refused to do so, saying that she 
knew she could trust him. Still, the suggestion left its 
trail upon her mind ; and she exhibited an eager de- 
light when we, on our return, saw, at the distance of a 
couple of blocks, the Don taking leave of Laura in 
front of the Carters'. 

"I knew it," said she, with modest triumph. "Mary 
has read so many novels and poems that she lives in 
constant expectation of adventures ; as though an ad- 
venture could happen to any one in steady-going Eich- 
mond ! Mr. Whacker!" she suddenly exclaimed, starting. 

"What's the matter?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 73 

" He is coming this way ! What shall we do ?" And 
she stood as though rooted to the pavement, helplessly 
looking about her for some avenue of escape. 

"Why, what do you fear?" said I, laughing. 

''That's true," said she; and she moved forward 
again, though with very uncertain tread. 

" Mr. Whacker," said she, presently, " would you 
mind giving me your arm?" 

Meanwhile, the Don was coming up the street, and, 
as he approached us, I could see that his features were 
softened by a half smile. We met, face to face, at the 
corner above the .Carters'. His eyes chancing to fall 
upon my face, it was obvious that he recognized me. 
Indeed, I am sure he gave me something like a bow, 
then glancing casually at Lucy. Just at "this juncture 
she, for the first time, looked up, and their eyes met. 
It was then that I understood what Mary had said 
about his eyes. For a second his steps seemed almost 
arrested, and his eyes, filled with a strange mixture of 
curiosity and intense interest, seemed to dilate and 
to shoot forth actual gleams of light. Lucy, who was 
leaning heavilj^ upon my arm, shivered throughout her 
entire frame. 

" Why, what can be the matter?" 

''I am sure I don't know," replied she, in a hollow 
voice. " Let us hurry home, — I can hardly breathe !" 

Arrived in front of the house, within which was to 
be heard the busy chattering of Laura and our other 
friends, Lucy hurried in at the gate, and, without at- 
tempting to enter the house, dropped down upon the 
first step she reached, and leaning back, drew a long 
breath. 

"Mr. Whacker," said she, after a few moments' 
silence, "you must really excuse me. I cannot con- 
ceive what made me so silly. What is he to me? But 
do you know, sometimes the strangest ideas come into 
my head, and I often wonder whether other people 
have the same. Sometimes I will visit some place for 
the first time, and suddenly it will seem to me that I 
have been there before, although I know all the time 
that it is not so. And again I will be listening to some 
D 7 



74 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

one relating an incident just happened, and it will seem 
such an old story to me ; and it will seem as though I 
had heard just the same story ages and ages ago. Do 
you know, I sometimes think that the ancients — how- 
ever, it is all nonsense, of course. But oh, I would not 
feel again as I did just now for worlds ! Do you know, 
when he passed me, I felt a sort of subtle, aerial force, 
a kind of magnetic influence, as it is called, drawing 
me towards him, and so strongly, that nothing but the 
firm grasp I had on your arm saved me from rushing 
up to him and taking him by the hand. And then, 
when I passed him, without speaking to him, suddenly 
there came over me the strangest feeling. Will you 
think me crazy if I tell you what it was?" 

" By no means," said I, much interested. 

" Well, — will you believe me? — a sudden pang of re- 
morse." 

" Eemorse !" 

"Yes; I cannot think of a better word. It seemed 
to me as though I had known him ages ago, in some 
other world, such as the Pythagoreans imagined, and 
that I, bright and young and happy, meeting him again, 
I, though I saw he was unhappy, cruelly passed him 
by ! Oh, Mr. Whacker, I do pity him so !" 

Her lower lip trembled, and her soft brown eyes 
glistened with rising tears. For a while neither of us 
spoke, — she, perhaps, afraid to trust her voice, I re- 
specting her emotion by silence. 

" Yes," said I, at length, " it is an old story. ' What's 
Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?' We cannot help, 
though we would, feeling the sorrows of others. But, 
Miss Lucy, aren't ^^ou letting your imagination — no, 
your tender-heartedness — run away with your judg- 
ment ? Here is a great, strapping, fine-looking fellow, 
whom you have seen passing along the street a few 
times, with a rather serious expression of countenance, 
and you straightway jump to the conclusion that ho 
is profoundly miserable, and even shed tears over his 
fate." 

" Yes, it is all very silly, of course," said she, smiling, 
and brushing away her tears. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 75 

"And you must admit that you have not a particle 
of evidence, not a scintilla, as we lawyers say, that the 
Don is any more to be pitied than I, or any other 
person of your acquaintance." 

"Oh, a woman's rules of evidence are very different 
from what you lawyers find in your great, dusty, dull 
volumes. See how / should state the case. I see a 
great, strapping, fine-looking fellow, to borrow your 
language, coming here, day after day, from I know not 
how far, or at how great inconvenience to himself, with 
no other object, so tiir as I can divine, save that of en- 
joying the affectionate greetings of a little child of less 
than four years of age, whom he met by chance, and 
who, though nothing to him, in one sense seems every- 
thing to him, in that her childish love has gone out to 
.him. What kind of a home must this man have, do 
you think? He can have no home. And yet you 
wonder that I am sorry for him !" 

"No," said I, gladly seizing the opportunity of 
changing the current of her thoughts ; " it is true that 
the views you hold of evidence do not coincide with 
those of Greenleaf ; but I have long since ceased to 
wonder at your feeling sorry for anybody or anything. 
The number of kettles that, of my certain knowledge, 
have, through your intercession, not been tied to stray 
dogs' tails, and the hosts of cats that have escaped 
twine cravats — " 

" How cruel you boys used to be !" 
" Why, Lucy, how long have you been there ?" cried 
Alice, leaning out of the window. " Come here, Mary, 
and look at them,— it is a clear case. Laura," added 
she, looking back into the parlor, but speaking loud 
enough for us to hear,— " Laura, for one so juvenile, 
your diagnosis is singularly accurate." 

"H'm? Whose noses?" asked Laura, looking up 
from the doll she was dressincr. 



76 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

I THINK it will be allowed that, whatever else this 
story may be, it has been, so far, genteel. It is with 
regret, therefore, that, in the very opening of this 
eighth chapter, I find m^^self driven to the use of a 
word which hardly seems to comport with the previous 
dignity of our narrative. But, after turning the matter 
over in my mind again and again, I have found it im- 
possible to discover any satisfactory synonyme, or in- 
vent any delicately-phrased equivalent for the very 
plebeian vocable in question. With the reader's kind 
permission, therefore — 

To a philosopher and a philanthropist (and I am 
somewhat of both, after a Bushwhackerish fashion) 
the word Lager Bier should undoubtedly be one of the 
most precious additions to a language already rich in 
such expressive linguistic combinations as Jersey Light- 
ning, Gin Sling, Rum and Gum, Rye and Rock, Kill- 
Eound-The-Corner, Santa Cruz Sour, Stone Fence, 
Forty-Rod, Dead Shot, etc., etc., etc., not to mention a 
host of such etymological simples as Juleps, Smashes, 
Straights, and Cobblers. For the introduction into this 
country of the mild tipple it indicates has unquestion- 
ably done more to arrest drunkenness than all the tem- 
perance societies that have been, are, or shall be. Still, 
the word itself, spell it how you will, has hardly a dis- 
tinguished air; and hence I long sought, and should 
gladly have adopted, some such aristocratic expression 
as Brew of the Black Forest, Nectar of Gambrinus, 
Deutscher's Dew, Suevorum Gaudium {i.e. Schwabs' 
Bliss) — some genteel phrase, in a word — but that I was 
unwilling to sacrifice precision to elegance. 

Now, the necessity that I am under of alluding to 
the Solace of Arminius at all, arises in the simplest 
way. 

At the period of which I am writing, this beverage, 
newly introduced, had great vogue in Richmond, notably 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 77 

among tbo young men. Especially did college-bred 
young fellows give in a prompt adhesion to the new 
faith; and if, in any party of such, assembled to dis- 
cuss, in a double sense, this new ethereal mildness, 
there w^as found any man who had attended the Ger- 
man universities, that man was the lion of the evening. 
His it was to excite our wonder by reciting deeds of 
prowess that he had witnessed ; his to tell us w^hat had 
been done; his to show us how it could be done again. 
I wonder whether a young medical man whom I knew 
in those days (now a staid and solid doctor) remembers 
the laugh which greeted him when he essayed to ex- 
plain, to an attentive class that he was coaching in the 
new knowledge, how the Grerman students managed 
actually to pour their beer down their throats, — swal- 
lowed it without swallowing, that is. 

" It is the simplest thing in the world," said he. 
" See here." And turning a glass upside down over 
his mouth, its entire contents disappeared without the 
slightest visible movement of his throat. " Didn't you 
see how it was done? The whole secret lies in the 
voluntary suppression of the peristaltic action of the cesoph- 
agusy 

" The dense you say !" cried a pupil. " Then, if that 
be so, I for one say. Let's all suppress." And that be- 
came the word with our set for that season, and much 
beer perished. 

Why is it that a man recalls with such pleasure the 
follies of 'his youth? And why is it that the wise 
things we do make so little impression on our minds? 
For "my own part, I can remember, without an effort, 
scores of absurdities that I have been guilty of, while 
of acts of wisdom scarcely one occurs to me. 

The favorite haunt of my beer-drinking friends at 
this period w^as a smallish room, — you could not have 
called it a saloon,— a regular nest of a place, situated, 
not to be too explicit, not very far from, say Fourth 
Street. Our little nook stood alone in that part of the 
city, and, being so isolated in an exceedingly quiet 
neighborhood, it met exactly the wants of the jovial 
though orderly set of young professional men who, 

7* 



78 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

with the honest Teutons of the vicinage, frequented 
it. 

Well, on the occasion to which I have referred, half 
a dozen of us were grouped around a table, and were 
unusually merry and bright. Our doctor's new word 
had been hailed as a real acquisition, in honor of which 
there was some sparkling of wit, and more of beer, — a 
happy saying being as real a provocative of thirst as a 
pretzel, — and, moreover, there had arisen between him 
and a j^oung and promising philologist, lately graduated 
at the university, and since become a distinguished 
professor in the land, a philologico-anatomical, serio- 
comical discussion, in which the philologian maintained 
that it was hopeless for American to emulate G-erman 
youth in this matter of drinking beer, while at the 
same time maintaining a voluntary suppression of the 
peristaltic action of the oesophagus, for the very simple 
reason that the throat of the G-erman, incessantly 
opened wide in pronouncing the gutturals of his lan- 
guage, and hardened by the passage of these rough 
sounds, becomes in process of time an open pipe, a 
clear, firm tube, — in a word, a regular rat-hole of a 
throat, such as no English-speaking youth might 
reasonably aspire to. The medical man, I remember, 
came back at him with the quick smile of one who 
knows, and asked him if he did not confound the 
larynx with the oesophagus. 

"I do," broke in a young lawyer. . 

"You do what?" 

"I confound the larynxes and cesophagusses of both 
of you. Mine are growing thirsty. I say, boys, let's 
suppress 'em both. Here, fiinf bier!" 

The mild Teuton behind the bar obeyed the order 
with a smile. He was never so well pleased as when 
a debate arose among us, sure that every flash of wit, 
QYQvy stroke of humor, would be followed by a call for 
beers all round. 

I don't think we ever drank more than we did on 
that evening (I really believe the beer was better then 
than now) j and just as we were in the midst of one of 
our highest bursts of hilarity the door opened behind me. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 7i) 

"Hello!" said the doctor, in a whisper; "there's our 
grenadier!" 

Turning, I saw Don Miff standing by the counter, ex- 
changing in the Grerinan language a few commonplaces 
(as I supposed) with the dispenser of beer. 

" Who is he ? Where did you ever see him before ?" 
I asked. 

" Why, here, of course. Is it possible that this is the 
first time you have seen him ? Why, he has been 
coming here ever}^ evening for a week at least. Ah, I 
remember, you have not put in an appearance for 
about that time. We boys have nicknamed him ' the 
Grenadier.' He always takes a seat at that table 
where he is now, and, after sitting about an hour, and 
drinking two or three glasses of beer, goes off. We 
are curious to know who the dense he can be." 

"Does he always come alone?" 

" Invariabl}^. Never speaks to a soul, save Hans, of 
course. What! do you know him?" 

The Don's eyes and mine had met, and we had bowed; 
he with the smile courteous, I with the smile expansive 
and bland, born of many beers. 

" No ; I can't say that I do. I have met him on the 
street merely. But I am rather interested in him, — 
why, I will tell you hereafter. I say, boys," I con- 
tinued, "let's have him over here." 

" Good !" 

I approached the Don with my sweetest smile, and, 
saluting him, said something about our being a jolly 
party over at our table, and wouldn't he join us? 

"Thanks; with pleasure," said he, rising; and the 
" boys," seeing him approach, made room for him with 
much hospitable bustle. 

"Mr, Smith," said he, in a low voice, as we crossed 
the room. 

"Mr. Whacker," replied I; and, seizing his hand, I 
shook it with unctuous cordialit3^ 

Are we not all brethren ? 



80 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTER IX. 

" Well, fjiir damsels, I have found out the great, 
great secret !" 

"Oh, do tell us! Who is he?" 

" Who he is I cannot say, but I now know his name." 

" Then Don Miff is not his real name !" said Mary, 
with a rather injured air. " But of course we could 
not expect, in our every-day world, to meet an actual 
person with such a name as that." 

"I should think not," said Alice. "But what is his 
name, Mr. Whacker? How fearfully slow you are, 
when we are dying of curiosity, as you knowl" 

"How stupid we have all been!" said I. 

" In what respect ?" 

" How shockingly, dismally stupid and obtuse !" 

"But how?" 

"Did you not put Laura up to asking his name? 
You did. And did she not bring back the words Don 
Miff as the result of her investigations, and none of us 
ever suspected the plain English of the matter?" 

Here Alice gave a little shriek and fell upon a sofa. 

" Just listen," said I to Mary and Luc}', who were 
looking from Alice to me, and from me to Alice, with 
a bewildered air. "Listen carefully. J-o-h-n S-m-i-t-h, 
John Smith, or, according to Laura, Don Miff!" 

" Impossible !" cried Mary, with a resolute stamp of 
her foot. 

" But he told me his name himself." 

"I can't help what he told 3"ou; but no one shall 
ever make me believe that his name is John Smith. 
There are people named Smith, of course." 

" No fair-minded person would deny that," said Alice. 
" Why, Mary, there is your own Aunt Jud}'." 

" Yes, dear old Aunt Judy !" said Mar}^, smiling. 
"But John Smith, Alice, — John! Now can you believe 
that any Smith, senior, in the full blaze of the nine- 
teenth century, would name his son John V 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 81 

"I think it in the highest degree improbable," said 
Alice. 

"Improbable, Alice? Why, it is preposterous. At 
any rate, be there or be there not John Smiths in the 
world, that is not Ms name." 

" With his starry eyes !" put in Alice, languishingly. 

"With his starry eyes!" repeated Mary, smiling. 
"No; say what he will, John Smith is no more his 
name than Don Miff \vas. And as I, somehow, like 
the oddity of the latter, Don Miff shall he be with me 
till the end of the chapter." 

"Selah!" said Alice. 



CHAPTEE X. 



The most dangerous gift that a man can possess is 
superior skill in perilous employments. Sooner or later 
the most illustrious lion-tamer furnisheth forth funeral 
unbaked meats to the lordly beast he has so long bullied. 
Sooner or later, dies miserably the snake-charmer, 
charm he never so wisely. The noble art of self-de- 
fence has been brought to high perfection ; but you 
shall no more find a prize-fighter with a straight nose 
than a rope-dancer with sound ribs. Every now and 
then (for the danger is not confined to the experts 
themselves) a bullet, advertised to perforate an orange, 
ploughs the scalp (though rarely reaching the brain) 
of its human support; and I make no doubt that the 
eminent pippin upon which Swiss liberty is based might 
have been placed once too often on his son's head, had 
not William Tell abandoned, when he did, archery for 
politics. 

I have been led into this train of thought by an acci- 
dent which befell a number of the actors in our drama, 
through intrusting their limbs, their lives, and their 
sacred necks to the keeping of a young man who was 
reputed to be the best driver of Eichmond in his day. 

Now, no true artist is content unless he may exhibit 
his virtuosity; and this young man, like all crack 



82 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

whips, had conceived the notion that the art of driving 
consisted, not in bringing back his passengers to their 
point of departure, safe and sound, but rather in show- 
ing how near he could take them to the gates of Para- 
dise without actually ushering them therein. To him 
the sweetest incense was the long-drawn sigh of relief 
breathed out by his friends when deposited, once again 
and alive, at their front door. Who but he could have 
controlled such untrained horses, — spirited is what he 
calls them ? Who passed that wagon at that precise 
spot, — made that rapid turn without upsetting? 

Think not, my boy, that it escapes me that in your 
bright' day of things perfected there will be no more 
drivers of horses, — nor horses either, for that matter, 
save in zoological gardens. Not forgetting this, but 
remembering that human nature remains the same, 
have I written these words. Beware, then, oh, last 
lingering male, perhaps, of the line of the Whackers, 
beware of the crack balloonist of your favored time ! 

There were four of us. Luc}^ and Alice sat on the 
rear seat, Sthenelus and I in front, on a rather more 
elevated position. Beturning from our drive, we are 
rapidly moving down Franklin Street. A heavy country 
wagon is just in front of us, and not far behind it, 
though rather on the other side of the street, another 
creeps along, both meeting us. The problem was to 
pass between them. One of those fellows who knows 
nothing about driving would have brought his horses 
down to a walk, and crept through in inglorious safety. 
Not so Sthenelus. With him glory was above safety ; 
and so, leaning forward, he lightl}^ agitated the reins 
along the backs of his rapid bays, and we whizzed past 
the first wagon. The next instant our charioteer went 
sprawling over the dashboard, carrying the reins with 
him ; though I, foreseeing the collision with the second 
wagon, had braced myself for the shock, and so managed 
to retain my seat. 

The horses bounded instantly forward, and rushed 
down the street with an ever-increasing speed. The 
usual scene occurred. Ladies who chanced to be cross- 
ing the street, shrank back in terror to the sidewalk. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 83 

Nurses scurried hither and thither, gathering up their 
charges. Men stood in the middle of the street, shout- 
ing and sawing their arms, waving hats, umbrellas, 
handkerchiefs, but getting out of the way just in time 
to let the more and more frantic horses pass; while 
troops of boys came rushing down every cross-street, 
their eyes a-glitter with barbaric joy, and shouting 
back the glad tidings to their toiling but shorter-legged 
comrades in the rear. 

Where do all the boys come from ? 

But wild with terror as they w^ere, the horses turned 
up the cross-street along w^hich they had been driven 
earlier in the afternoon, — the one, that is, intersecting 
Leigh one block above the Carters', — and up this they 
rushed with a terrific clatter. 

Meanwhile, I had not been idle. Immediately upon 
the fall of our charioteer and the bounding forward of 
the horses, both girls had sprung to their feet with a 
cry of horror; but I shouted to them to sit down, and 
they obeyed. Alice, however, with every jolt of un- 
usual severity would rise and attempt to leap from the 
vehicle, and again and again I had to seize her and 
thrust her back into her seat. Lucy, on the contrary, 
gave me no further trouble. Ashy pale, with her hands 
clasped, she sat trembling and silent, her appealing 
eyes fixed upon me. At last I insisted upon their sit- 
ting upon the floor of the carriage, assuring them, in 
as confident a tone as I could muster, that there was 
no earthly danger if they w^ould but resolutely hold 
that position ; and in this, too, they obeyed me, though 
in Alice's case I had to supplement my commands by 
a firm grip upon her shoulder. 

At last, when w^e were approaching Leigh Street at 
a furious pace, and the horses were turning into it, a 
well-meaning man rushed, with a loud " whoa," at the 
horse nearest him, at the same time belaboring him 
with his umbrella ; and this producing an extra burst 
of speed, the carriage made the turn literally on two 
wheels ; so that, in momentary expectation of an upset, 
I instinctively released my hold on Alice's shoulder and 
seized the edge of my seat ; while the girls were so 



84 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

frightened that Alice sprang up, and, with a wild cry, 
threw her arras around ray neck, Lucy, at the same 
tirae, seizing my right arm. 

The two girls pulling down upon rae with all the 
strength of panic-terror, there was no help for it. My 
heels flew up in the air, my legs assuming the shape of 
a gigantic Y. 

Picture to yourself, gentle reader, Mr. Fat Whacker 
moving down Leigh Street in this alphabetical order! 

Even had 1 not been throttled almost to suffocation, 
I believe my face would have been red with shame, — 
often a more powerful emotion than the fear of death. 
(I, for example, once saw an officer, while the battle of 
Spottsylvania Court-House was raging, blush, instead 
of turning pale, when a cannon-ball, rushing past him, 
annihilated the seat of his trousers.) 

And this is what I saw, looking through that Y as a 
sharpshooter through the hind-sight of his rifle. 

I saw the Don and Laura cosily sitting on the car- 
riage-block, with their backs towards us, the nurse 
standing near by. Molly saw us as soon as we turned 
into Leigh Street, and knowing the horses, I suppose 
(all recognition of rae being, I must presume, out of the 
question), rushed up to the Don with a scream. He 
leaped to his feet, and, taking in the situation at a 
glance, sprang into the middle of the street. 

Perhaps the efl'ect was intensified to me by the con- 
centration of light wrought by the involuntary hind- 
sight arrangement of my legs ; possibly my perceptive 
faculties, stimulated by the situation, were unusually 
keen ; but the bearing and look of the Don remain to 
this day indelibly impressed upon my memory. Hat- 
less, he stood in the middle of the street, one leg ad- 
vanced, and with both arms, after the fashion of ball- 
players, extended to the front. But it was his counte- 
nance that struck me most. His grimlj^-set lips, his 
distended nostrils, his brows intensely knit over his 
darkly glancing eyes, but, above all, his head, thrown 
back, and rocking to and fro in sympathy with the os- 
cillations of the approaching team, gave him a look of 
ferocious disdain. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 35 

It is with just such a look, I can imagine, that a lion, 
famished and desperate, after long and vain hunting of 
giraffe or gazelle, prepares to spring, from his tangled 
ambuscade of rushes, upon the horns of an approaching 
bull. What must be done, saith his mighty heart, must 
be done — and done bravely. 

'Twas Milton's Satan stood there ! 
But just as the grimness of the countenance of Cle- 
archus appeared odious to his soldiers in camp, but 
lovely in the hour of battle, so the look I have been 
describing seemed to me, at this critical juncture, to 
rival the beautiful disdain of Byron's Apollo Belvedere. 
It was the sternly confident look of a man who scorned 
to rank failure among possibilities. 

What would have been the result, had the horses 
held their straight course down the middle of the street, 
we can only conjecture, but such was the force of habit 
that, frantic as they were, they bore so far to the left, 
just before reaching the Don, that the left wheels rat- 
tled along the gutter, within a few inches of the car- 
nage-block, up to which they had so frequently been 
driven by their owner. The Don rushed to the ric-ht 
to intercept them, and, just as they were about to pass 
him, sprang upon the head of the off horse with an in- 
articulate cry so fierce, and a vigor so tremendous, that 
the animal, partly thrown back upon his haunches 
swerved, in his terror, violently to the left, forcino- his 
mate upon the sidewalk. But the Don had leaped too 
far. Struck in the right side by the pole, he was hurled 
to the ground, his head striking the pavement with 
great force. In a moment of time both hoofs and wheels 
bad passed over his prostrate form. 

" Oh !" shrieked the girls, releasing me, and claspino- 
their hands with mingled compassion and terror. ° 

The Y collapsed, and in an instant I went spinning 
over the dash-board. ^ 

Tbe near-horse, his neck broken against the lamp- 
post, lay stone dead ; while the other, his traces burst, 
stood trembling in every fibre, and, as he pulled back 
against the reins, which still held him, uneasily snort- 
ing at his lifeless yoke-fellow. 

8 



86 THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 



CHAPTER XI. 

I WAS somewhat stunned by my fall, but extricating 
myself from my entanglements, I rose just in time to 
see Alice spring from the carriage, followed by Lucy. 
The latter fell as she alighted from the carriage, but 
before I could reach her the Don had staggered up to 
her and lifted her from the ground. He was hardly 
recognizable. His clothes were soiled and torn, and 
blood was streaming from two ugly gashes in his face, — 
one on his forehead and another in his right cheek. 

"I trust you are not hurt?" said he. 

" Not at all," answered Lucy, quickly, before she had 
looked at him, or knew, in fact, who had assisted her 
to rise. " Oh," cried she, clasping her hands, when she 
caught sight of his face, " but you are dreadfully hurt !" 

""Oh, no," replied he, with a ghastly smile ; " merely 
a few scratches." 

" Oh, but 3^ou are ! Alice ! Mr. Whacker ! The 
gentleman — " 

But her further utterance was interrupted by the 
almost hj^sterical entrance upon the scene of Mrs. Car- 
ter, who flew from one girl to the other pale and tremu- 
lous, endeavoring to assure herself, by repeated embraces, 
that they were not dead. In a few moments a miscel- 
laneous crowd had clustered around our party, through 
which Mary, who had witnessed the accident from her 
window, rushed to greet her friends. To add to the 
confusion, little Laura, her nerves unstrung by the 
scene, was wailing piteously; so that, for a moment, 
we forgot the Don. 

"Look! oh, look!" suddenly cried Lucy, in an ex- 
cited voice ; and seizing me b}^ the arm, she gave me a 
push. "Quick! quick!" said she, pointing towards 
our deliverer. 

He was leaning heavil}'' against the lamp-post, which, 
for support, he had clasped with his arms; but, their 
hold relaxed, they had fallen and hung listlessly by his 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 87 

side. With pallid face, vacant, upturned eyes, and 
parted lips, he was slowly sinking to the ground. 

I sprang forward, but too late to catch him as he fell, 
or, rather, sank gently to the pavement, his head find- 
ing a pillow in the body of the dead horse. 

" Who is he, Mary ? How was he hurt ?" asked Mrs. 
Carter, eagerly, as she saw Lucy hunying to his side, 
and bending over him with an expression of agonized 
terror in her face. 

" It is the Don. He tried to stop the horses, but was 
knocked down, and then both they and the carriage 
passed over his body." 

Mrs. Carter was by his side in an instant. His eyes 
were closed, but o^Dening them slightly, and seeing 
her sj^mpathizing looks, a faint smile illumined his 
ashy-pale features. 

" Ask some of these people," whispered Mrs. Carter, 
" to help you carry him into the house." 

He seemed to hear her, for his eyes opened again and 
his lips moved, though they gave forth no sound. 
" What's the m-m-m-matter, Jack ?" 
Feeling a hand on my shoulder, I turned and saw 
my friend Charley. 

" What, you in the city ! You are just in time. We 
want to take this gentleman into Mr. Carter's." 

Charley and I took hold of his head and shoulders, 
some volunteers his body and limbs, and, lifting him 
gently, we moved towards the house. Some papers 
fell out of his breast-pocket as we raised him from the 
ground, which Charley gathered together and put into 
his own pocket for the time being. 

" Where shall we take him ?" I inquired, as we entered 
the hall. 

"Up-stairs, into the front room. Here, this way," 
said Mrs. Carter. " Alice," said she, suddenly stopping 
midway on the stairs, " send for the doctor, instantl}'. 
This way, — gently. Ah, here we are at last! This 
room. There, lay him on that bed. Thank you, gen- 
tlemen. Now, Lucy dear, bring me some water and 
towels. Thank you. Don't be so alarmed, child ; he 
will soon revive." And she gently passed a corner of 



88 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

the moistened towel over his soiled and blood-stained 
face. At this he opened his eyes for an instant, and 
looked up into Mrs. Carter's face with a smile of lan- 
guid gratitude, and then, closing them again, soon began 
to breathe heavily. 

" He is asleep, girls ; you had best leave him now to 
these gentlemen and myself. The doctor will soon be 
here, t hope. When did you reach the city, Mr. Fro- 
bisher?" asked she, in a sick-room whisper, turning to 
Charley. 

" To-day. On a little b-b-b-business. Who is our 
friend?" And he nodded towards the bed. 

" Oh, I'll let the girls tell you when you go down- 
stairs. It is rather a long and strange story." 

When the doctor came he found the Don in a heavy 
sleep and decided to make no examination into his in- 
juries, till he awoke. So he lay, just as he was, in his 
clothes, till eleven o'clock, at which time he began to 
exhibit symptoms of returning consciousness; and we 
sent off for the doctor again. 

Mrs. Carter, Charley, and I sat in the room with him, 
though one or the other of us frequently left his side 
to convey tidings of his condition to the girls, who 
were naturally anxious to know how matters were 
going with him. A little after eleven, after turning 
uneasily from side to side for some time, he awoke. 
Mrs. Carter arose softly, and going to the bedside and 
leaning over him, asked if he wanted anything ; and 
he called for a glass of water. He barely moistened 
his lips, however, and then, looking from one to another 
of us in a bewildered way, and scanning the room with 
feverish eyes, he raised his head from the pillow and 
asked, with a puzzled look, " Where am I ?" 

"Never mind," said Mrs. Carter, gently; "you are 
among friends." 

"Ah, thanks!" said he; and his head falling back 
upon the pillow, he was silent for a little while. "I 
have been hurt somehow, have I not?" he asked, at 
last. 

" Yes, you were hurt trying to save others." 

" Oh, yes ! It seems to me that I tried to stop a run- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 89 

away team, but they knocked me down and went on. 
Or did not some one else stop them ? I remember see- 
ing the ladies leap out and one of them fell, and there 
was a crowd of people, and some of them lifted me up." 

"Yes, and brought you in here; but you mustn't 
talk." 

" Well, I won't talk any more," said he, closing his 
eyes. 

" That's right. Lie quietly where you are, and after 
a while you will go to bed and have a good night's rest,- 
and will wake up strong in the morning." 

" Oh, yes," said he, " I shall be all right in the morn- 
ing." But, opening his eyes wide, he began to stare 
around the room. "Where am I? This is not my 
room," said he, with rather a wild look ; and he tried 
to rise on his elbow, but fell back with an expression of 
pain on his face, closed his eyes, and lay motionless for 
a little while. Presently he opened them again. " I 
don't know this room !" And his eyes ranged up and 
down and from face to face with a sort of glare. Mrs. 
Carter gave us an anxious look. She arose, and, drawing 
her chair alongside the bed, began passing her fingers 
through' his hair. Immediately the wild look passed 
out of his eyes, and his face was suffused with a smile 
of infantile sweetness. 

"You must keep quiet," said Mrs. Carter. 

" Yes," said he, simply. 

Suddenly he started up with staring eyes, and cried 
out, " There they come ! There they come ! Moll}' ! 
Take Laura! Molly! Quick! Quick! Get out of the 
way ! Ah ! I missed 'em !" and he fell back with a 
groan. 

Just then the doctor entered. Mrs. Carter touched 
her head. 

"That's nothing!" replied the doctor, in a cheery 
voice. He was a large man, with a large head, covered 
not so much with auburn hair as with a tawny mane. 
His face, too, was leonine in its strength, and his step 
light and springy; and he came into a sick-room with 
an air which seemed to say that when he entered by 
the door disease had to fly out by the way of the win- 

8* 



90 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

dow, or else he would know the reason why. He 
walked straight op to the sufferer and placed his hand 
upon his forehead. The Don gave him a perplexed 
look, which passed awa^^, however, when the doctor 
began to feel his pulse. The firm and confident look of 
the doctor seemed to give the patient control of his 
faculties. 

" Your head aches ?" 

" Badly." 

" Of course. Any pain elsewhere ?" 

" Whenever I move there are excruciating pains in 
my right side." 

" We must look into that. Mrs. Carter, you will 
please retire. By the way, please send me one of Mr. 
Carter's night-shirts. We will now undress you," said 
he to the Don, "and see what's wrong with that right 
side of yours. Then we shall tuck you away snugly in 
bed, and you will wake up to-morrow a new man." 

"Thanks," said the Don, smiling in sympathy with 
the cheerful tone of his physician. 

The examination over, the doctor wrote his prescrip- 
tions, and, before taking' his leave, suojo-ested that one 
of us should sit up with the patient, as his flightiness 
was likely to return during the night, while the other 
made himself comfortable on a lounge till he was 
needed as a relief. Griving us his final directions, he 
left the room ; but no sooner had he emerged into the 
upper hall than he was surrounded by Mrs. Carter and 
the three girls, Mary having decided to pass the night 
with her friends. 

"Is he badly hurt?" 

" Yes, badly." 

"Dangerously^?" 

" His body is black and blue ; there is an ugly lump 
on the back of his head, and — " 

"And what?" 

" He has three ribs broken." 

" Oh !" cried the girls in unison. 

"Do you think, doctor," asked Lucy, with trembling 
lips, " he will — " but she could not speak the word. 

" J^ot a bit of it," and the doctor snapped his fingers. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 91 

"Oh, I am so thankful!" 

"Now be off to bed, every one of you!" said the 
doctor, with a certain jolly iraperiousness. " Scamper !" 
And he shook his tawny mane. " No doubt there are 
plenty of fellows who would gladly die for 3'ou, but I 
intend to pull this one through. Good-night. Go and 
dream of the hero. Of course you are all in love with 
him. Good-night." And with a courtly bow he took 
his leave. 



CHAPTEE XII. 



A PEW days after this, when Mrs. Carter entered the 
Don's room, before going down to breakfast, to see how 
he was getting on, she found him entirely free from 
fever and his head clear once more. It was then that, 
for the first time, she made him understand that the 
house in which he was lying was the one in front of 
which he had so often met little Laura. 

" You must know we have often played the spy upon 
you from our window w^hile you were talking to her." 

"Indeed!" said he, coloring. "You must have 
thought—" 

" We thought none the worse of you, I can assure 
you." 

" How strange my conduct must have appeared to 
you ! But had you only known — however — " And he 
suddenly checked himself. 

" Do you know that your condition has been criti- 
cal?" said she, changing the subject. " Daring the first 
few days we were very uneasy about you." 

" Few days ! You don't mean to say that I have 
been lying here several days ?" 

" Yes ; the accident occurred on Saturday, and this 
is Thursday morning." 

" Is it possible ?" 

" Yes ; but you have been delirious, and of course 
could know nothing of the lapse of time. You can 
imagine what our feelings were, doubtful as we were 



92 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

as to the result of yonr injuries. There you Xaj, sufferini^ 
from possibly fatal injuries, while, oAvino; to the disor- 
dered condition of your brain, we could in no possible 
way learn from you the address of your friends, — you 
remember, Mr. Frobisher, — nor write them of your con- 
dition." The Don's face grew clouded, as Charlej^'s 
quick eyes perceived ; but Mrs. Carter's being fixed upon 
Charley for the moment, she did not remark the change. 
(I was getting a nap in an adjoining room.) " I am 
sure," continued she, " 1 cannot explain why I felt so, 
for I did all I could, even insisting, one night, when 
the doctor pronounced jowv condition exceedingly crit- 
ical, upon Mr. Frobisher's looking through your pockets 
for letters or other sources of information; but I could 
not help repeating and repeating to myself, What will 
his mother say when she learns that we — Ah, you are 
suffering again. Well, we must not talk any more just 
now. You will be better after breakfast. You can 
take some breakfast, can you not? No? But I shall 
send up some toast, may I not? Yes? Ah, that's 
right. It will do you good ; and little Laura shall be 
allowed now to pay you the visit she has so often 
begged for." 

"Little Laura! Ah, send her in right now, — do, 
please." 

Charley went to the door and called her, and soon 
her little feet were heard pattering along the hail; but 
reaching the door, and seeing the Don lying in bed, 
and so pale and scarred, she stood abashed and hesi- 
tating upon the threshold, with one rosy finger in her 
mouth, 

" Come in, little Sunbeam," said he ; and she began 
to advance slowly — a step and then p, halt — till she 
reached the middle of the room, when with a bound 
and a bright smile she sprang towards him, crying, 
" Here's some flowers I brought you. I saw those bad 
horses run over 3'ou, and I cwied." 

"Did you?" said he, with a grateful smile. "I be- 
lieve you are the best friend I have in the world." And 
he took her hands in his and patted them gently. 
" Have you had your breakfast ?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 93 

" No, ma'am ; Molly is going to get me some." 
"AVon't you take your breakfast in here with me? 
We'll have a nice time together." 

" Oh, may I take my breakfast with Don Miff?" 
" Yes, darling." And Laura skipped out of the room. 
"You cannot imagine," continued Mrs. Carter, smiling, 
" how all of us were puzzled by that name which Laura 
has just used, — Don Miff. She came in one evening 
and said that that was your name ; and do you know 
we were all so stupid that we could not imagine what 
was the English of it till Mr. Whacker met you and 
told us. ' Don,' you will observe, has a decidedly 
Spanish air; but what nationality did 'Miff' indi- 
cate?" 

"Don Miff, Don Miff," repeated he, smiling. "Well, 
that has a decidedly droll sound when seriously spoken 
as a man's name. And Mr. Whacker told you that it 
Avas, being interpreted, plain John Smith." 

"Yes; and, by the way, it occurs to me that perhaps 
you would like to know who I am. I am Mrs. Carter" 
(the Don tried to bow), " and that gentleman seated 
by the window, who has nursed you so faithfully" 
(Charley arose), " is Mr. Charles Frobisher, of Leices- 
ter County." 

Charley came forward and extended his hand. 

"Mr. Charles Frobisher!" echoed the Don, in a 
startled tone, giving^ Charley a quick and concentrated 
glance; and then, as if recovering himself, he took the 
proffered hand, and said, "Ah, Mr. Frobisher, I am 
extremely indebted to you." 

"Not at all," replied Charley. "I could not do too 
much for one who saved the lives, as you doubtless did, 
of three of my friends." 

" May I ask whom I so fortunately saved, as you are 
so good as to say ?" 

"In the first place, Mrs. Carter's daughter Alice." 

" My only child," added Mrs. Carter, averting her 
face. 

"And with her was Miss Lucy Poythress, daughter 
of a valued neighbor of mine." 

"Little Laura's sister," explained Mrs. Carter. 



94 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"Yes," said the Don, Avith his eyes fixed upon the 
ceiling. 

" And my friend Jtick Whacker, whom I have long — 
in default of other — looked upon as a younger brother. 
So you see that when we come to speak of obligation, 
the boot is on the other — " 

"Don Miff, here turns Molly with my bekfuss," 
chirped little Laura, skipping into the room. 

"Ah," said Mrs. Carter, rising, "I must send you 
yours, Mr. Smith. Mr. Frobisher, you may leave your 
patient to Molly and Laura; so join us at breakfast. 
]^o; we will let Mr. Whacker sleep after his vigils as 
long as he can. Now, Laura, you must take good care 
of Mr. Smith." 

That morning Mar}', as was her wont, came across 
the street to inquire after the Don, and found the 
family lingering around the breakfast-table ; and the 
girls had hastened to tell her of the improved condition 
of the patient. Mr. Carter and Charley had lit their 
pipcvs, and there was a lively clatter of female voices. 

"Girls," said Mrs. Carter, rising, "I am going up- 
stairs now to look after our invalid, and I think I shall 
have some news for you when I come down." 

"I can't imagine what you expect to ascertain," said 
Alice, " unless it be how many slices of toast Mary's 
starry-eyed one has consumed." 

"You see," continued Mrs. Carter, smiling, "it is 
proper, now that he has recovered the use of his facul- 
ties, to write to his friends to let them know where and 
how he is. They must be terribly uneasy, whoever they 
are. But I cannot write to them without first learning 
of him their names and addresses. Do you see ?" 

" Capital ! and perfectly legitimate," cried Alice. 
"And mind, mother, just so soon as he gives you the 
names find an excuse — you will need pen, ink, and 
paper, you know — find an excuse and fly to us, — yes, %, 
and tell us all about it. Don't write the letters first, 
for we shall be positively dying to know who he is. 
jS"ow mind, mother dear, %.'" 

Chaiiey rose hastily, knocked the ashes out of his 
pipe, and laid it on the mantel-piece. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 95 

" Won't jovi fill up ?" said Mr. Carter. 

"Not just at present," said Charley, looking at Mrs. 
Carter. 

" Very well," said Mrs. Carter, "I shall fly," and she 
looked down at her plump figure and laughed ; " and 
do try to live till I get back." 

" May I accompany you ?" asked Charley. 

There were three little shrieks from the girls. 

" Talk about a Avoman's curiosity," exclaimed Alice ; 
and they all lifted up their hands and let them fall 
upon the table. Charley, who was just passing out 
into the hall, turned and smiled. It was the answer 
that he returned to most things that were said to 
him. 

"By the way," said Mrs. Carter, turning round in 
the hall, " when I come to think of it, Mr. Frobisher, 
it seems to me that it would be as well for you to offer 
3-our services instead of me." And she re-entered the 
dining-room. 

Charley stood looking down upon the floor and twirl- 
ing his thumbs. 

"Don't you think so?" 

" Will you allow me to be perfectly frank ?" said 
Charley, looking up. 

"Certainly," said Mrs. Carter, with a surj^rised look; 
" what is 3'our opinion ?" 

" That neither of us ask the names and addresses of 
his friends." 

"Really? Of course, if you have any reason to 
think — if you know anything — " 

" I know nothing whatever, but — " 

"But w^hat?" gasped the'girls. 

Charley stood silent for a time, stroking his yellow 
beard. 

"Sphinx No. 2," said Alice. 

A gentle ripple passed through Charley's moustache. 
He began to twist one end of it, " It may be all imag- 
ination," he began, " but I fancied, at least, that when 
you spoke to him this morning of his mother — " And 
he paused. 

"Ah, I remember. I recollect a look of pain. Yes, 



96 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

I remember perfectly, — his face clouded up instantly. 
Yes, you are quite right, Mr. Frobisher." 

" He alwa^'s is," whispered Lucy to me, with a smile. 

" Always," said I. 

Mary gave a sigh. ^^ Wow, girls, I suppose we are 
never to learn who this Sphinx is." 

" Never, never on earth," sighed Alice, in return. 

"Yes," said Lucy, "we shall yet know him; I feel 
that we shall." 

" You always were a dear, encouraging creature," 
said Alice, passing her arm round Lucy's waist and 
leaning her head languidly upon her shoulder. " 1 
shall never forgive you, Mr. Frobisher. By this time, 
but for you — oh, it was too cruel !" 

"Never despair!" And he started on his way up- 
stairs. 

Nothing was said for a minute or so, all listening to 
Charley's retiring footsteps. 

"Mrs. Carter," said Mary, "Mr. Frobisher knows 
something about the Don that we do not. Don't you 
think so, Mr. Whacker ?" 

I had come in for my breakfast shortly after Mary 
arrived, looking very sleepy and stupid. 

"Hardly, I should think. How could he?" 

"And then," said Mary, "if he knew anything he 
would have told Mr. AYhaeker." 

" I am not so sure of that." 

"You don't know him," said Lucy, laughing. "He 
is an odd fish if ever there w^as one. I never could see, 
though, Mr. Whacker, why people should say he was a 
woman-hater." 

"A woman-hater!" exdaimed Mary, looking much 
interested ; " a regular misogynist w^ould be such a 
piquant character!" 

" Yes, I have heard that he was. Is it true, Mr. 
Whacker ?" said Alice. 

" Charley a woman-hater!" said I, sleepily reaching 
for the butter. " No — morc^than — I — am." And I 
gave a frightful yawn. 

"Ever since I was a child," said Alice, gravely, "I 
have longed to see Mammoth Cave. My curiosity is 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 97 

now fi^one. I hope your appetite is on the same scale, 
Mr. Whacker." 

" You must excuse me. Eemember how little I slept 
last night." 

" It is such a disappointment that he doesn't hate 
women !" said Mary. 

''Eomance!" whispered Alice; for which Mary gave 
her a love-tap on the cheek. 

" Charley, you must know, is an eccentric, and it is 
of the nature*^of eccentricities to grow, especially when 
remarked upon. He was, even as a boy, singularly 
taciturn, and this trait having been often alluded to by 
his acquaintance, I think he has grown rather proud 
of it. Earely opening his mouth, Avhen he does speak 
his language is apt to assume a sententious and epi- 
grammatic form ; and certain of his crisp utterances 
about women having been repeated, have given him the 
reputation of hating the sex. This for example : Few 
ladies are gentlemen. I suppose, too, that the manner of 
his life has contributed to strengthen this impression. 
He never visits young ladies, seeming content with the 
society of my grandfather and that of two or three of 
the elderly people among his neighbors." 

" Why, yes," interposed Lucy, " if he hated women, 
how could he be so devoted to mother as he is ? No 
weather can prevent his crossing the river for his weekly 
visits to her." 

" How fond he must be of your mother !" said Mary, 
with an arch look. 

"Oh," replied Lucy, quietly, "I am not the attrac- 
tion, though we are warm friends. His visits began 
when I was ever so little ; and as for mother, she loves 
Mr. Frobisher as dearly as though he were her own 
son. But you know," said she, turning to me Avith a 
grave look, and speaking in undertones, "there are 
peculiar reasons for that." 

"Yes," said I, "I have heard." 

Lucy sighed and was silent. 

" But, Mr. Whacker," began Alice, " why is he so 
silent? You can see he is very intelligent. His smile 
is singularly subtle, and what little he does say is always 
E gr 9 



98 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

admirably well said. 'A bird that can sing and won't,' 
you know." 

" Suppose you bring him out," said I. 

" Do you know I am positively afraid of him ?" 

"The idea of being afraid of 3Ir. Frobisher!" ex- 
claimed Lucy. 

" And the idea of Alice's being afraid of any one !" 
chimed in Mary. 

" But I am," rejoined Alice. " That way he has of 
quietly fixing his eyes upon you while you are talking, 
as though he were serenely looking you through and 
through, quite upsets me. And then 3'ou can't for the 
life of you guess what he thinks of you." 

"Ah," said I, "that's the trouble, is it? You would 
like to know what he thinks of you?" 

" I didn't say that," said she, slightly coloring. " I — " 

"I'll ask him," said I. 

" I said—" 

" But he won't tell me, I know." 

" What I said—" 

" Sly rogue that he is, with his eyes fixed upon you — 
so I understood you to say — all the time that you — even 
you — are talking. How great a portion of his time 
he—" 

" Mr. "Whacker, you are too absurd for anything !" 

"However," said I, unwilling to tease her further, 
though I saw what delight it gave her mother and 
Mary to see Alice put, for once, on the defensive, " you 
do my friend injustice. I assure you that, seated quietly 
in the Elmington sitting-room, before a bright winter 
fire, alone with my grandfather and me, Charley is 
capable of becoming a veritable chatterbox. When he 
is in the vein, there seems to be no end to the stream 
of his quaint, subdued humor. He reminds me of the 
waters of a cistern, deep, quiet, unobtrusive, but there 
when needed, — not of a brook that goes babbling sweetly 
forever." 

"For example," said Mrs. Carter, nodding towards 
Alice. 

" I wish you would persuade him to do some babbling 
for us," said she. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 99 

" And you, meanwhile ?" 

"Ah," said her mother, "she would be able then to 
enjoy the luxury of what Sydney Smith called an 
occasional flash of silence." 



CHAPTER XIII. 



The Don now went on improving steadily, and it 
was not very long before his jolly doctor, entering the 
room in his brisk, cheery way, and bringing along with 
him much of the freshness of the crisp October morn- 
ing, told his patient that he might dress and sit by the 
window, and that if he felt able to do so, he might, the 
next da}', go down-stairs. At this Mrs. Carter, who 
had followed the doctor, expressed great satisfaction ; 
when the Don said something about having given 
enough trouble already, and asked whether he would 
not be strong enough, probably, to go down to his own 
room. 

" How far is it ?" asked the doctor. " Where is your 
room ?" 

"At the corner of th and Main ; ever so far," said 

Mrs. Carter; " but far or near, Mr. Smith, you will not 
go there yet. It is simply out of the question." To 
which the Don smiled his acknowledgments. 

I must mention, here, that after the conversation re- 
corded in the last chapter, on Mrs. Carter's going up to 
inquire how the Don had enjoyed his breakfast, he had 
seemed a little nervous. It was obvious — so, at least, 
she thought — that he feared that she was going to pro- 
pose to write to his friends. At last it seemed to occur 
to him, as a kind of compromise, that he would give a 
vague sort of account of himself, but in such a way that 
it would be understood that he had nothing more to re- 
port. Actuated, apparently, by this motive, and spurred 
on by a nervous dread of a point-blank question from 
Mrs. Carter, he seized every pretext for saying some- 
thing about himself, but always in a distant and shadowy 



100 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

kind of way. For example, allusion having been made 
to the news from Europe, he hastened to say that he 
had spent much of his life there ; and this bringing up, 
very naturally, the delights of travelling, "Yes," said 
he, " it is very pleasant at first, but after a while one 
begins to feel, as he wanders from capital to capital, 
that he is on a sort of perpetual picnic, — a mere butter- 
fly, — and a weary sense of the aimlessness, the utter 
worthlessness, of his life begins to creep over him. 
After all, every human heart feels, sooner or later, the 
need of a home ; for a home means interests, means 
duties, means affections ; and what is life without all 
these?" 

It was a study, watching his face when he spoke in 
this way. Beginning with a low voice and with a 
studied repose of manner, the mere utterance of his 
thoughts would soon hurry him past self-control, the 
glow of his countenance and the vibrating intensity of 
his voice breaking through the crust of a self-imposed 
calm, when, as though conscious that he had betraj^ed 
too much emotion, he would abruptly cease speaking, 
and remain silent till he felt that he had regained com- 
posure. 

" I cannot thank you sufficiently, Mr. Frobisher," 
said Mrs. Carter one day, " for warning me not to ask 
him about his home and friends." 

" What would he have said, mother?" said Alice. " I 
wish you had, almost.'' 

"And then, perhaps, we might have known some- 
thing," said Mary. " I declare I am positively con- 
sumed with curiosity." 

" Don't speak of it," said Alice. " Now just look at 
that provoking Lucy. Here are you and I, Mary, 
wrought up to the highest pitch of excitement over 
this enigma, and there sits Lucy, as composed and 
self-contained as — as — Neptune. You remember his 
placidum caput, girls, — in the Yirgil class, you know." 

" My head may be placidum, but it is more than my 
heart is. It fairly aches with longing to know who he 
is. Do you know, I feel, somehow, as though he was 
to be more to me than to either of you girls." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 101 

" What !'' said Alice. " Have not I lonor since claimed 
him?" 

It was on one of the occasions above alluded to that 
the Don mentioned where his room was (hence Mrs. 
Carter's knowledge of its location), managing to throw 
out, in a vague way, that as a wanderer about the earth 
he had chanced to find himself in Eichmond, something 
in his manner rendering it impossible that any one 
should ask whence he came or whither he was going. 
" Now, doctor," Mrs. Carter had added on this occasion, 
" I am sure that you will say that it would be very unwise 
in Mr. Smith to forsake his nurse and his present quar- 
ters just at present. True, Mr. Whacker takes Mr. 
Frobisher off to-night down to his rooms, but I am left. 
Besides, down there on Main Street, weak as you are, 
and all alone as j^ou would be, there is no telling what 
might happen." And she looked to the doctor for sup- 
port. 

" Of course," said he, with a shake of his head that 
brought the waving hair down over his forehead, — "of 
course Mr. Smith will remain here for the present." 

" Well, that is settled ?" asked Mrs. Carter. 

" One must obey orders, especially when they are 
asrreeable." 



CHAPTER XIY. 



This decree of the doctor's threw the household into 
a great bustle. I was requested to call on the Don's 
landlord, explain his long absence, and have his trunk 
sent up to Leigh Street. The girls were in a great 
flutter at the prospect of breakfasting with the mys- 
terious stranger next morning; which announcement 
they had no sooner heard than they flew across the 
street to give Mary the news ; and the air grew misty 
with interjections. 

"We have arranged it all, Mary. Mr. Whacker and 
Mr. Frobisher, who, as you know, are to leave our house 
this evening, will come up to breakfast with the Don, 

9* 



102 THE STORY OF DON MIFJF. 

of course, and you will just make the party complete. 
Proper? Of course, Mary. Why, there will be just 
one apiece, — so nice ! You and Mr. Frobisher, Lucy 
and — ahem ! — Mr. Whacker, and the Don and myself 
JVo ! that's the way it shall be. Of course I'll let you 
girls look at him, — even exchange a few words with him, 
— but I ! — " And dropping into a chair by a table, she 
made as though mincing at an imaginary breakfast, 
whilst ogling, most killingly, an invisible gallant by her 
side. 

That day, the girls thought, would never end. They 
could neither talk nor think of anything save the 
coming breakfast, wandering aimlessly from room to 
room, and from story to story, romping, yawning, gig- 
gling, and were so exhausted by nightfall that they all 
went to bed at an early hour, just as children do on 
Christmas Eve, to make the morning come sooner. 

You must remember that they were hardly eighteen 
years of age. 

The morning came. Charley and I met Mary at the 
front door and we entered together. " I am so ex- 
cited," said she. "It is all so like a real adventure." 

A few minutes afterwards Mrs. Carter begged me to 
go up and assist the Don down-stairs, if necessary. He 
walked down-stairs very well, however, and we entered 
the dining-room, where I expected to find the whole 
family, but the girls had not yet put in an appearance. 
Alice, it seems, had gotten the other girls into so hilarious 
a state by her mad drolleries — enacting scenes that were 
to take place between herself and the Don — that they 
had to remain some time in the upper chamber in order 
to resume control of their countenances ; and her per- 
formances in the halls and on the stairways were such 
that they had to call a halt several times before they 
reached the dining-room door. We were all seated at 
the table, and breakfast had begun, when the door was 
partly opened, then nearly closed, then opened a little 
way again, while a faint rustling of female garments 
was the only sound that broke the stillness. Presently, 
Mary, followed by Lucy, popped into the room with a 
fcuddenness that suggested a vigorous j^ush from some 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 103 

one in the rear, while tlieir features, of necessity in- 
stantly composed, were in that state of unstable equi- 
librium which ma}' be observed in the faces of boys 
when the teacher reappears in the school-room after a 
few moments' absence. Alice followed, demure as a 
Quakeress. 

The introductions over, and Alice and Lucy having 
thanked the Don for his gallant rescue of them from 
danger, the girls took their seats, Alice next the Don. 
It will be easily imagined that, under the peculiar cir- 
cumstances of the case, no word, no gesture, no look 
of our new friend passed unobserved. No bride, com- 
ing among her husband's relations, was ever more 
searchingly scrutinized. Naturally, we compared notes 
upon the first occasion that oifered, and it was interest- 
ing to observe that, various as were the estimates placed 
upon our enigma, each of the ladies held, in the main, 
to her first impression. It is no secret, in fact, that if 
a woman sees a man passing in front of a window at 
which she is sitting, or hears him utter three sentences, 
the impression formed upon her mind is often next to 
ineradicable. 

" I do not know," said Mrs. Carter, " when I have 
seen a manner so elegant and distinguished. It shows 
the combined effect of gentle birth and much travel. 
How charming — and how rare nowadays — is that defer- 
ence towards our sex that he manages to combine with 
perfect dignity and repose of manner! By the way, 
Mr. Whacker, did you not notice how subdued Alice 
was throughout breakfast ? I have never seen her so 
quiet and demure." 

"Never mind," said Alice, "I am feeling my way. 
Wait till I get a little better acquainted with him. I 
must say, however, that I don't think our hero promises 
much in the way of fun. I doubt whether he would 
know a joke if he met one on the highway." 

"No," said Mary, "his nature is "too absorbed, too 
intense, for — " 

"And his eyes too starry. Did you not observe, 
Mary, how they dilated when first they bended their 
light on the dish of stewed oysters?" 



104 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"Alice, I believe that if you could, you would jest 
at your own funeral." 

" No ; at that pageant you may count on me as chief 
mourner." 

" Oh, Alice !" said Lucy, reprovingly. 

" Never mind, my dear ; I am not so wicked as I 
seem. Besides, I am rather reckless and desperate just 
at this moment." 

"Why, what is the matter?" 

"All my aspirations dashed to the ground during one 
short breakfast!" Alice rested her chin upon her hand, 
and gazed pensively upon the floor. 

" What new farce is this ?" asked Lucy, amused. 

" And it is you who ask me that !" And Alice raised 
her ej^es with a sad, reproachful look to those of her 
friend. " And you call it a farce ? You P^ And she 
sighed. " Of course," resumed Alice, quickly raising 
her head and looking from face to face, — "of course you 
all noticed it. It was perfectly obvious. Yes, this Miss 
from the rural districts has swooped down and carried 
off the prey without an effort." 

" I, at least," said Lucy, coloring, " saw nothing of 
the kind. In the first place, I sat at one end of the 
table and he at the other, and I am sure I hardly ex- 
changed a dozen words with him." 

"Alas!" sighed Alice, " it is precisely there that the 
sting lies. I sat by him and had every advantage over 
you, — and I used every advantage. Didn't you remark 
the tone in which I called his attention to the omelet? 
Could a siren have urged upon him, more seductively, 
a second cup of coffee ? And how gently did I strive 
to overwhelm his soul with buckwheat cakes ! And 
was the marmalade sweeter than the murmur in which 
I recommended it? And yet," — Alice paused for a 
lull in the tumultuous laughter, — "and yet," she con- 
tinued, " strive as I would, I could not keep his eyes 
from wandering to your end of the table." 

" It is very strange," said Lucy, wiping her eyes, " that 
all this was lost on me." 

" And then," added Alice, " your most — some one will 
please attend to the fat lady ; she seems in a fit — your 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 105 

most trivial remark, even though not addressed to him, 
seemed to rivet his attention. To confess the humili- 
ating truth, Mary, I don't believe he would recognize 
either of us, should he meet us in the street; but every 
lineament of Lucy's face is graven — you know how 
they say it in novels. It is a regular case of love at 
first sight, my dear." 

Alice's eyes ran along the circle of faces surround- 
ing her as she spoke, and it so happened that when 
she paused at the words " my dear" she was looking 
Charley full in the face. Charley, as I have before re- 
marked, had seen very little of young ladies, and I had 
several times observed that when Alice was speaking 
in her sparkling w^ay he would watch her all the while 
out of the corners of his eyes, with an expression of 
wondering interest. Charley rarely laughed. I think 
his self-control in this regard amounted to somewhat 
of an affectation, and he had acquired a sort of serene 
moderation even in his smiles. But Alice's bright, rat- 
tling talk seemed to have a sort of fascination for him, 
and to hurry him out of himself, as it were. And on 
this occasion I had been slyly watching his features 
moving in sympathy with the changing expression of 
her exceedingly mobile countenance. Entirely ab- 
sorbed as he was in watching the play of her counte- 
nance, and thinking of I know not what, when he 
found her bright eyes resting full upon him, and himself 
seemingly addressed as "my dear," he was suddenly 
startled out of his revery, and not knowing what to 
say: 

"I beg pardon," said he, quickly, " were you speak- 
ing to me ?" 

A shout of laughter greeting this ingenuous ques- 
tion, Charley's face reddened violently, Alice's gener- 
ally imperturbable countenance answering with a re- 
flected glow. 

"Not exactly," said she; "my remarks were ad- 
dressed to the company at large." 

" Oh !" said he, blushing more deeply still. 

"But, Mr. Frobisher," continued Alice, willing to 
relieve the embarrassment of the woman-hater, " don't 



106 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

you agree with me ? Wasn't the Don obviously capti- 
vated by Lucy ?" 

" I am sure, if he was not, it would be hard to under- 
stand the reason why. But the fact is, Mrs. Carter's 
capital breakfast — " 

"Oh, you monster!" 

Half an hour later, finding myself alone with Lucy : 
" So you do not claim or even admit," I happened cas- 
ually to remark, " that you have made a conquest." 

"No, indeed!" replied she, with a frank look in her 
eyes. " Far from it. Alice is all wrong." 

"But Miss Alice was not alone in her observation of 
the facts of the case. We all saw what she described. 
I did most certainly." 

"And so did L" 

"Well?" 

" I saw, of course, how often he glanced towards me, 
and I was conscious that even while I was speaking to 
others his eyes were upon me. But there are looks 
and looks. You men don't understand anything about 
such matters." 

"And where, pray, did you learn all this mysterious 
language of looks and looks ?" 

" I am a woman." 

" So is Alice." 

"Ah, yes; but, Alice — well, girls like to say that 
kind of thing to each other, — it's encouraging, you 
know. Why do you smile? It is pleasant, of course, 
to be told that we have destroj^ed some man's peace 
of mind, though we know it to be highly improbable 
in point of fact. I shall reciprocate, at the first oppor- 
tunity, by telling Alice with what sweet pain she has 
filled the breast of dear good Mr. Frobisher." 

"Do you think so?" I exclaimed. "That would be 
too good! The woman-hater! Capital!" 

" Stranger things have happened. Did you not see 
how he blushed just now? But as to the Don, do you 
know he is a greater m3'stery to me now than ever ? 
Every woman instinctively knows what a man's looks 
mean." 

" Well, what did the Don's glances signify ?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 107 

"I cannot for the life of me imagine." 

" What ! Although every Avoman instinctively knows, 
and so forth." 

"Ah," said she, smiling, "I meant that they always 
knew when the looks meant — pshaw ! you know very 
well what I mean." 

" You would have me to understand that the Don's 
looks, though they meant something, did not mean 
nascent love." 

"Yes. Do you not rememher that sudden and in- 
tense look he gave me when we met him on the side- 
walk? Well, when I came to turn that incident over 
in my mind I came to the conclusion that he mistook 
me for some one else. Now I am all at sea again. He 
knows, now, that I am Lucy Poythress, and not any 
one else." 

" Naturally." 

" Don't be silly,— and still—" 

"And still?" 

" And yet — oh, you know what I mean." 

" Upon my word I do not." 

" Well, he seemed to me to be studying me as a kind 
of problem, — no, not that, — he appeared — ah, this is 
my idea — he seemed to me to survey me just as I have 
seen mothers look at their sons after a session's ab- 
sence. 'Has he grown? Has he changed? Has he 
improved?' Do I make myself clear?" 

" Perfectly." 

"What are you laughing at? What do I mean, 
then ?" 

"I gather from all you say that your impression is 
that this Mystery, this Enigma, this Sphinx, this Don 
Miif — longs to be a mother to you." 

"Mr. W-h-a-c-k-e-r!" 

I could never understand why a man must not laugh 
at his own witticisms ; and my hilarity on this occa- 
sion immediately drew the other girls and Mrs. Carter 
into the front parlor, where Lucy and I were sitting. 
By rapidly interposing a succession of chairs between 
that young woman and myself, I succeeded in giving 
the ladies an enlarged and profusely illustrated edition 



108 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

of Lucy's views of the state of the Don's feelings and 
intentions in regard to herself, when, seizing my hat, 
I fled, leaving the three girls in uproarious glee, and 
Mrs. Carter collapsed in an arm-chair, weeping, while 
voiceless laughter rippled along her rotund form. As 
I passed in front of the window Lucy's head appeared. 
" Say your prayers twice to-night," said she. 



CHAPTEE XY. 



"Jack," said Charley that night at my rooms, "have 
you any message for the old gentleman ? I am off for 
home to-morrow." 

" Indeed I Why this sudden resolution ?" 
" Too many people in Eichmond for me." 
" It seems to me that you like some of them a good 
deal. Isn't she bright ?" 

" P-p-p-pass me tlie tobacco." He filled his pipe very 
deliberately and walked across the room. " Where do 
you keep your matches ? Ah, here they are. Who," 
added he, striking one — "puff — do you — puff, puff — 
think so — puff, puff, puff — bright? Confound the 
thing! — puff' — puff — it has gone out!" And he struck 
another. Lighting his pipe, and throwing himself upon 
a lounge, he looked the picture of content. 

" Say, old boy," said I, " own up. Those hazel eyes — " 
"Do you know, Jack-Whack" (whenever he called 
me that he was in the best possible humor), "that 
you are making a howling ass of yourself?" And he 
shot a pillar of smoke straight towards the ceiling, fol- 
lowing its eddying curves with contemplative eyes. 
" 'Howling ass' is a mixed metaphor." 
" Yes, but an unmixed truth, my boy. Did it ever 
occur to you, Jack," said he, removing the Powhatan 
pipe, with its reed-root stem, from his lips, " that cigars 
are essentially vulgar? You never thought of it? 
But they are. So are dress-coats. You have only to 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 109 

put them into marble to see it. Look at the statue of 
Henry Clay in the Square. Was ever anything so 
absurd! Posterity will inevitably regard Henry as an 
ass." 

" Of the howling variety ?" 

" Of course. Now, just picture to yourself Phidias' 
Jove with a cigar stuck into his mouth." 

Charley shot upwards a circling wreath of smoke, 
watched it till it dissipated itself, and then turned his 
head, with a little jerk, towards me: "H'm? How 
would the Olympian Zeus look with a Parian Partaga 
between his ambrosial lips ?" 

'' I have seen lips that — " 

" Howling and so forth." And he turned over on his 
back and commenced pulling away at his pipe. 

"I think she likes you." 

Charley pursed up his mouth, and, taking aim, with 
one eye, at a spot on the ceiling, projected at it a fine- 
spun thread of smoke. I detected a tremor in his 
extended lips. 

" I may say I know she likes you." 

With an explosive chuckle the pucker instantly dis- 
solved. I had taken him at a disadvantage. His 
features snapped back into position as suddenly as 
those of a rubber mask. 

"I was thinking," said he, "how great a solace and 
bulwark a pipe would have been to Socrates, during his 
interviews with Xantippe, — and it made me smile." 

" Yes," said I, carelessly. 

" YesP' said he, rising up on his elbow, — " what do 
you mean by ' yes ' ?" 

"I merely meant to agree with you, that a pipe 
would have been a great solace and bulwark to Socrates 
during bis interviews with Xantippe." 

He fell back on the lounge. " Let's go to bed," said 
he. 

" Grood !" said I ; and I began to remove my coat. 
" So the Don is to leave the Carters to-morrow and go 
to his own quarters." 

" Yes," said he, rising from the lounge. " I like that 
chap." 

10 



110 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

That was a great deal for Charley to say. It was 
the very first expression of his sentiments towards the 
Don. 

" I am glad you do," said I ; " I thought you did." 

"Yes, he is a man. Do you know what i am going 
to do? I shall invite him to Elmington. Uncle Tom 
will like him. He says he is fond of hunting, and this 
is just the time for that ; and he will be strong enough 
soon. Suppose we go up to-morrow, before I leave 
town, and invite him jointly. You will be down for the 
Christmas holidays, you know. By the way, I hope 
be will accept?" 

" I am quite sure of it. He has betrayed an unac- 
countable interest in Leicester County on ever}^ occa- 
sion that I have alluded to it, notwithstanding an 
obvious effort to appear indifferent. He has a way of 
throwing out innocent, careless little questions about 
the county and the people that has puzzled me not a 
little. Who the deuse is he ?" 

"EoU into that bed! it is loo late for conundrums. 
Here goes for the light !" And he blew it out. 

"Jack!" said he, about half an hour afterwards; 
" Jack, are you asleep ?" 

"H'm?" 

" Are you asleep ?" 

" H'm ? H'm ? Confound it, yes r 

"No, you're not!" 

" Well, I !Z)as.'" And I groaned. 

"Jack, I suppose Uncle Tom will have his usual 
Christmas party of girls and young men at Elmington 
this Christmas?" 

" S'posc so, umgh !" 

" I say—" 

"Don't! Don't! Those are my ribs! Good Lord, 
man ! you don't know how sleepy I am. What on earth 
are you talking about ?" 

"Do you know what girls Uncle Tom is going to 
have to spend Christmas with us this winter?" 

" And you woke me up to ask me such a question as 
that? Thunder! And you see him to-morrow even- 
ing, too ! Oh, I understand," said I, being at last fully 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. HI 

awake, and I burst out laughing. "You want me to 
say something about Alice with the merry-glancing 
hazel eyes." 

" About whom ? Alice ? That's absurd, — perfectly 
absurd! Why, she thinks me an idiot because I don't 
jabber like one of you lawyers. All women do. Un- 
less you gabble, gabble, gabble, you are a fool. They 
are all alike. A woman is always a woman j a man 
may be a philosopher." 

" My dear boy, your anxieties are misplaced." 

" Who spoke of anxieties?" 

" Don't you — a philosopher — know that talkative 
girls prefer taciturn men ? I am perfectly certain that 
Alice thinks your silence admirable, — dotes on it, in 
Itict." 

" Jack-Whack," said Charley, rising up in bed and — 
rare sight — though I felt rather than saw or heard it — 
shaking with laughter, "you are the most immeasur- 
able, the most unspeakable, the most — " 

Down came a pillow on my head. Down it came 
again and again as I attempted to rise. We grappled, 
and for a few minutes no two school-boys could have 
had a more boisterous romp. 

"ISTow just look at this bed," said Charley, out of 
breath ; " see what you have done !" And he fell back 
exhausted, as well with the struggle as from his un- 
wonted laughter. " We have not had such a tussle 
since I used to tease you as a boy. Whew ! Let's go 
to sleep now." 

" She's a bewitching creature." 

"Idiot!" said Charley, turning his back to me with 
a laugh, and settling himself for the night. 

" Poor fellow ! Well, he got me to pronounce her 
name, at any rate, by his manoeuvring." 

"Do you know this is rather coolish ? Where on 
earth are the blankets? Find one, won't you? and 
throw it over me." 

" Here they are, on the floor ! There ! Sleep well, 
poor boy ! 

* Oh don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt ? 
Sweet Alice with h-a-i-r so brown.' " 



112 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" You rhyme with the sinners who came to scoff, but 
remained to pray. You seem to yourself to sing, but 
appear to me to b-b-b-bray." 

" Good ! There is life in the old boy yet !" 



CHAPTER XYI. 



!N"ext morning Charley and I called at the Carters' 
to give the Don the invitation to visit Elmington, but 
found he had gone out for his first walk since his acci- 
dent, to test, at Mrs. Carter's instance, his strength 
before going into his own quarters. Charley was com- 
pelled, therefore, to leave the city without seeing him. 
In the evening I called at his rooms. Knocking at his 
sitting-room door, 1 was invited to enter, and found him 
sitting by a table reading a small book, which he closed, 
but held in his hand as he rose and came forward to 
greet me. 

" Eeading ?" began I, bowing and glancing casually 
towards the little book, the back of which was turned 
away from me. 

" Yes," replied he, but without looking at the book ; 
"getting through an evening alone I find rather dull 
work after my recent charming experience. Take a 
seat. Will you have a pipe, or do you prefer a cigar ? 
A pipe ? You will find the tobacco very good." And 
walking to a small set of shelves near the door, he 
placed the little book upon it, — a circumstance too triv- 
ial to mention, did it not afford a characteristic exam- 
ple of the quiet but effectual way the Don had of nip- 
ping in the bud any conversation which was about to 
take a line he did not wish it to follow. I suppose we 
had been chatting for half an hour before I alluded to 
my errand. 

" Mr. Frobisher wished to see me particularly, you 
say ?" 

" Yes ; Charley heard you say one day that you were 
fond of shooting; and as there is fine sport to be had 



THE STORY OF BON MIFF. 113 

in Leicester, he thought it might be figreeable to you 
to — " 

The smile of polite curiosity with which he heard 
that Charley had had something to say to him rapidly 
faded as I spoke, and there came into his countenance 
a look of such intense seriousness, nay, even of sub- 
dued and suffering agitation, that, for a moment, I lost 
my self-possession in my surprise, but managed to finish 
my message in a stumbling sort of way. As for tlie 
Don, anticipating, apparently, from my opening words 
what that message was to be, he seemed hardly con- 
scious that it was ended. He sat, for a moment, with 
his head resting in the palm of his hand, his piercing 
eyes fixed upon the floor; but seeming suddenly to 
realize that this was a queer way of meeting a cour- 
tesy, he quickly raised his head. " Thanks, thanks," said 
he, with a forced smile, but with apologetic emphasis. 
" Charley — I beg pardon — Mr. Frobisher is very kind, 
— very kind indeed ! Yes, I should immensely enjoy 
having a tilt once more at the partridges.* Very 
much indeed," 

" Then I ma}^ hope that you will accept?" 

"Oh, certainly, with very great pleasure. Please 
present my warmest acknowledgments to Char — Mr. 
Frobisher, and say that I shall be at his command so 
soon as I shall have recovered my strength somewhat." 
He paused for a moment; then, throwing back his 
head with a little laugh : " By the waj-," he con- 
tinued, " I beg you will not misinterpret my singular 
way of receiving the invitation. It was such a sur- 
prise, and I am still a little weak, you know." 

" You must allow me to add how much gratified I, 
too, am at your decision. You know — or do you not ? 
— that the invitation is to my grandfather's place, El- 
mington." 

"Elmington?" 

"Ah, I see — very naturally, you don't understand 
that Charley lives with my grandfather." 

"With your grandfather? Why, how can that be? 

* The quail is unknown in Virginia — both bird and word. — Ed. 
h 10* 



114 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

I thought his place adjoined joiii* — " And he stopped 
suddenly. " Please be so good as to explain," he added, 
in a low voice. 

" Well, this rather peculiar state of things came about 
in this way. My mother died before I was a month 
old, and my father, my grandfather's only son, survived 
her less than a year; so that I was brought up by the 
old gentleman. Now, Charley's place adjoined El- 
mington, my grandfather's, their respective residences 
being not over a half-mile apart; and so Charley got 
into the habit — however, I must mention that Charley 
lost his father years ago, and, about ten years since, 
his mother died." 

"His mother? His mother is dead?" asked the Don, 
in a low tone, and without raising his eyes from the floor. 

" Yes. They say she w^as a lovel}^ woman." 

"And she is dead, you sa}', — your friend's mother?" 
he repeated, in a mechanical sort of way; and, resting 
his head upon his hand, he fixed hisej'es upon the win- 
dow with a look so grim that I paused in my narrative. 

"Yes," I presently resumed, "she — Charley's mother; 
that is — " 

" I beg pardon," said he, abruptly turning to me, and, 
as the Latin hath it, serening his face with an effort, — 
" please go on." 

" Well, Charley was at the University at the time of 
his mother's death ; and during the following vacation 
he seemed to find his own desolate home — he was sin- 
gularly devoted to his mother— unendurable ; so he 
would frequently drop in on my grandfather and my- 
self at tea, walking home, when bedtime came, across 
the fields; but my grandfather, remarking the sad 
look that always came into his face when he arose to 
depart, would frequently insist upon his spending the 
night with us. The poor fellow could scarcely ever 
resist the temptation, to my great delight ; for to me, a 
boy of thirteen, Charley, who was eighteen, and a stu- 
dent, was a sort of demi-god. I suppose, in fact, that 
apart from my grandfather's personal liking for the 
young man, and his sympathy with him under the cir- 
cumstances, he was very glad to give me the society of 



THE STORY OF DON MlFF. 115 

some one younger than himself. And so, to make a 
long story ishort, Charley's visits becoming more and 
more frequent and regular, it came at last to be under- 
stood that he was to spend every night with us, — during 
his vacation, of course. At last, at the end of three 
years, Charley left the University with the degree of 
Master of Arts in pocket." 

"Indeed!" 

" Yes. You are surprised, no doubt. He is so unas- 
suming, one would hardly suppose that he had attained 
an honor which is reached by hardly more than one out 
of every hundred of the students at the University. 
To continue. When he returned from college and took 
charge of his farm, it soon appeared that the tables 
were turned. It was Charley's companionship now 
that had grown to be a necessity to the old gentleman. 
' AYe shall expect you to dinner,' he would say every 
morning, as Charley rode off to look after his farming 
operations. Charley often protested against this one- 
sided hospitality, and, as a compromise, we would dine 
with him occasionally; but at last my grandfather pro- 
posed a consolidation of the two households, all of us 
wondering why the plan had not been thought of before. 
That is the way Charley came to live at Elmington. 
The two farms are separate, though from time to time 
worked in common, as occasion demands, — in harvest- 
time, for example. Each farm contributes its quota to 
the table, though not in any fixed ratio. My grand- 
father, for example, is firmly persuaded that the grass 
on his farm — notably in one special field — imparts, in 
some occult way, a flavor to his mutton that Charley's 
does not possess; while, on the other hand, an old 
Avoman on Charley's place has such a gift at raising 
chickens, turkeys, and ducks, that we have gotten in 
the habit of looking to her for our fowls." 

The Don smiled. 

"It is rather a singular arrangement, isn't it? but I 
have gone into these details that you might see that 
Elmington is, for all the purposes of hospitality, as 
much Charley's as my grandfather's. I hope it will 
not be long," I added, rising, " before you will be able 



116 THE^^TORY OF BON MIFF. 

to go down and see how tiie arrangement works, 
though I am sorry I shall not be able to join you till 
Christmas week, being detained by professional engage- 
ments, or, rather, the hope of such, as I have but re- 
cently opened a law office." 

"You may rest assured that I shall not lose a day, when 
once my physician has given me leave to go. Can't you 
sit longer ? Another visit yet ? Ah, I am sorry." And 
he accompanied me to the door of his sitting-room. 

As we stood there for a moment, exchanging the 
customary civilities of leave-taking, my eye fell upon 
the little book the Don had laid upon a shelf of his 
book-case. 

It was a copy of the J^ew Testament. 



CHAPTER XYII. 



At about the hour at which I was taking leave of the 
Don my grandfather was sitting alone in his dining- 
room, reading; his snow-white hair and beard, as they 
glistened in the lamp-light, affording a strong contrast 
to the vivacity of his dark eyes and the ruddy glow of 
his complexion. But the book before him was hardly 
able to fix his attention. Every now and then he would 
raise his eyes from its pages, with the look of one who 
fancied that he heard an expected sound. Several 
times he had risen from his seat, gone to the door, 
opened it, and listened. Something" like this he had 
been doing now for nearly a vreek. "Dick!" called 
he at last, opening the door : " Dick !" 

Uncle Dick emerged from the kitchen, where, for 
several days past, he had had orders to sit up till ten 
o'clock in the hope that Charley might arrive. 

" Yes, mahster !" 

"Dick, I thought I heard some one coming." 

Uncle Dick, who very naturally (and correctly) sup- 
posed that tiais was another false alarm, threw his head 
into an attitude of pretended listening. 

"Do you hear anything?" asked the old gentleman. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 117 

"Ain't dem de horses a-stompin' down at de stable?" 

" I believe you are right," sighed the old gentleman, 
as he turned to re-enter the dining-room. 

"Marse Charley ain't sont you no letter, is he?" 
asked Uncle Dick, advancing deferentially towards my 
grandfather, across the space that separated the kitchen 
trom the " Cfreat-House." 

" Why, no ; but I thought he might come. He wrote 
me a week ago that the gentleman was getting well." 

"Adzackly!" replied Dick, scratching in the fringe 
of white wool that bordered his bald head. " Jess so ! 
Does you think it rimprobable, mahster," he began 
again after a moment of seeming reflection, "dat Marse 
Charley would come without he writ fust and 'pinted 
de day, and de ferry 'most twenty miles from here, 
and nothin' to hire dere 'cep'n 'tis dat old flea-bitten 
gray, and he a-string-halted ?" 

" True enough." 

"Dat ain't no fitten animil for de likes o' Murse 
Charley, and he a-used to straddlin' o' de very best dat 
steps." 

" But listen, Dick! what's that?" 

"Lor', mahster, dat ain't nothin' but de old m'yar 
and colt out d'yar in de pasture." 

"Weil, what in the blue-blazes makes them all stamp 
so to-night?" replied the old gentleman, not without a 
little petulance. 

"Dat'sjess what I say! leastwise d'yar ain't no flies 
to bite 'em dis weather; but de}^ wull do it, mahster, 
dey will do it. Every dog have he day, dey tell me." 

Uncle Dick was strong on proverbs, though hardly 
happy in their application. Sometimes, in fact, just as 
doctors will, when they don't know what is the matter 
with a patient, prescribe pills of several remedial 
agents, in the hope that if one shall miss another may 
hit, so our old hostler, carriage-driver, and dining-room 
servant would not scruple, when aiming at a truth, to 
let fly at it an aphorism compound of the head of one 
proverb and the tail of another. 

" Yes," said my grandfather, applying Dick's saying 
for him, " every dog will have his day, and I suppose 



118 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

that is Avhy your Marse Charles is staying so long in 
Eichmond." 

Uncle Dick was a year or two his master's senior, 
and many a " wrassle" had they had together as boys. 
He was, of course, a privileged character, and he now 
gave one of those low chuckles iaeyond the reach of 
the typogra])her's art to represent to the eye. " Yes, 
mahster, I hears 'em say dat d'yar is some monstrous 
pretty gals, nebberdeless I should say young ladies, up 
d'yar in Richmond. Howsomever, pretty is as pretty 
does. Dat's what old Dick tells 'era." 

"You think Charley is in love, I presume?" 

Old Dick drew himself up as became one consulted 
on family affairs, and, dropping his head on one side, he 
assumed, with his knitted brows and pursed lips, an 
eminently judicial air. 

" Well, mahster, ef you axes me 'bout dat, I couldn't 
'espond pint'ly, in course ; for I ain't seen Marse Charles 
a-noratin' of it and a-splanifyin' amongst de Richmond 
f'yar sect; but old Dick ain't been a-wrasslin' and 
a-spyin' 'round in dis here vain world for nigh on to a 
hundred year for nothin' ef you listen to Dick ; and ef 
you believes me, mahster, dey all of 'em most inginerally 
gits tetched with love onetimeornuther." 

"I believe you are quite right, Dick." 

" Why, Lor' me, mahster," began Dick, encouraged, 
and assuming an attitude worthy of the vast generali- 
zation he was about to utter, " I reallj^ do believe 
into my soul dat people is born so ; dey is pint'l}', 
— speciall}^ young folks." And he stopped in mid- 
career. "What dat? 'Pear like I hear the far gate 
slam. But Marse Charle3^, he are a keener, he are, and 
the gal what catches him will have to be a keener too, 
she will pint'ly. Marse Charley worse'n a oyster at 
low tide ; soon as a young 'oman begins a-speculatin' 
and a-gallivantin' ivund him, he shets up, he do." And 
the old man chuckled. " Howsomever, he am pint'ly 
a keener, ef you hear Dick — " 

"Listen, Dick!" 

" I do believe I hear a horse snort ! D'3'ar 'tis again ! 
Somebodj^ comin' through de gate. 'Fore de Lord, I 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 119 

believe 'tis Marse Charley ! Lemme look good ! Sure 
enough, d'yur he is! Sarvant, Marse Charles! I 
knowed you was a-comin' dis very night, and I hope I 
may die ef he ain't on old Ho])-and-go-fetch-it ! Lord 
a' massy! Lord a' massy! \YelI, it's an ill wind what 
don't blow de crows out o' some gent'mun's cornfield. 
Lord a' massy, Marse Charley, what is you a-doin' up 
d'yar on dat poor old critter, and de horses in de stable 
jess a-spilin' to have somebody fling he leg over 'em ?" 

" Well, my boy, is that you ?" 

" Yes, here I am again, and glad to be back at home. 
How are you, Uncle Tom ?" 

" The sami old seven-and-sixpence, — always well ; 
and how are you ?" 

" Sound in wind and limb, and savagely hungry." 

" Well, get down, and we'll soon cure that ailment." 

" I am very sorry," said Charley, as they entered the 
dining-room, " that I had to stay awaj- so long, but it 
seemed right that I should help nurse him. Ah, what 
a noble fire!" 

" Well, you are at home again, at any rate. Polly 
will soon have some supper for you, and you know 
what is in the sideboard," 

Old Dick, meanwhile, was carrying out his share in 
the programme. 

"Well, I s'pose I'll have to feed you," said he to 
the flea-bitten, surveying him from head to hock. 

No true negro feels any doubt whatever as to his words 
being perfectly intelligible to horse, mule, cow, or dog. 

" Ef ever I see a poor-folks' horse, you is one. Git 
up! git up! don't you hear me ? You needn't be a- 
standin* here a-thinkin' Dick gwine to ride you to de 
stable. Aha! you hear dat word stable, did you? 
Bound for you ! Y"ou been d'yar befo', and you know 
d'yar's corn in dat 'ar stable ; and a heap mo', besides 
you, know dat d'yar is pervisions a-layin' around here, 
and dey ain't horses neither, nor yet mules. Git up, I 
tell you ! Ain't you got no more sense, old as you is, 
than to be a-snatchin' at dry grass like dat ? But 
Lor', Dick don't blame you ! JSTo, honey, Dick ain't got 
a word agin you. Who is you, any way, I ax you dat ? 



120 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Is you blood ? Is you quality ? Dat's what's de mat- 
ter, ef you believe me. You needn't be a-shakin' your 
head ; you can't tell Dick notbin'. Anybody can see 
you ain't kin to nobody. 'M'h'm! yes, chile! you 
needn't say a word, Dick knows dat kind far as he 
can see 'em, be dcy man or beast. Howsomever, Dick 
don't mount no sich. Nigger property is too unsartin 
for dat. Nebberdeless, Marse Charles, bein' as how he 
belongs to his self, he mought. Nebberdeless, you fotch 
him home, and pretty is as pretty does, dat's de way 
old Dick talks it. Polly! Polly!" shouted he to his 
wife, the cook, as he passed the kitchen door; " Polly! 
git up, gal! Marse Charles done come'^and want he 
supper. I would say,'' continued he, not content with 
the colloquial phrases in which he had announced his 
young master's arrival and the state of his appetite, — " I 
would say, Polly," — and enveloped in darkness as he 
was, and invisible even to his spouse, the old man threw 
himself into an impressive pose, as he always did when 
about to adorn his language with phrases caught up 
from the conversation of his master and his guests, 
— " I would say de Prodigy Son have arrove, and he as 
ravenous as de fatted calf." Hearing Polly bustling 
about within the kitchen : " Poll3\" inquired he, in a 
stately voice, " did you hearken to what I rubserved ?" 

" I hear you, Dick." 

"But did you make me out, chile, dat's de pint, did 
you make me out ?" 

" G-'long, man, and put dat horse in de stable. Marse 
Charley want he supper, course he do. What's de use 
o' talkin' about fat calves, when you know as well as 
I does d'yar ain't no sich a thing in de kitchen. Marse 
Charley want he supper, I know dat, and I'so gittin' 
ready to cook it fast as I can." 

" I b'lieve you. AVell, put my name in de pot, chile." 
And the old man went his way. " Well," said he, solilo- 
quizing upon the much-longed-for return of his young 
master, " dey tell me chickens, like horses [curses ?], 
always does come home to roost — git up, I tell you! — 
'cep'n onless dey meets a free nigger in de road, den 
good-by chickens — for you're gwine to leave us." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 121 



CHAPTEK XYIII. 

"Why, what's all this, Uncle Dick?" exclaimed 
Charley, as that venerable servitor entered, with hos- 
pitably beaming countenance, bearing a tray. " Eoast 
03' sters ! why, this cold turkey was enough for a prince." 
And he brushed from his yellow moustache the foam of 
a glass of Bass's ale. 

The old man, complimented by Charley's surprise, 
placed the smoking oysters upon the table with a bow 
of the old school. 

" Why, they are beauties ! Ah, I am glad you will 
join me. Uncle Tom ! I never saw finer." 

" Dey is fine, Marse Charley, dat's a fac'. Polly she 
save 'em for you special. You know, young mahster" 
(another bow), " de old-time people used to say you 
must speed de parti n' guest." 

" That's true. By the way, Uncle Dick, what do 
you say to a little something to warm up your old 
bones?" 

" Since you mention it, Marse Charley, I believe de 
frost has tetched 'em a little." 

"Well, get that bottle out of the sideboard, — you 
know where it is." 

" Know whar 'tis ? I wish I had as many dollars as 
I know whar dat bottle sets!" 

" Or would you prefer ale ?" 

"Thank you, young mahster; whiskey good enough 
for Dick." 

" There, 'tisn't more than half full ; take it out and 
give Polly her share." 

" Sarvant, mahster !" 

" Take some sugar?" 

" Much obleeged, young mahster ; seems like 'most 
everything spiles whiskey. Somehownutther nothin' 
don't gee with sperrits 'cep'n 'tis mo' sperrits." 

" But Aunt Polly might like sugar with hers." 

"Dat's a fac', Marse' Charley, dat's a fac'j but Lor' 
p 11 



122 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

me, women don't know; but den again dey tell me it's 
a wise man as knows his own father, so d'yar 'tis." 

" Well, Uncle Dick, I can make out without you now, 
so good-night; and present my compliments to Aunt 
Polly, and you and she drink my health." 

" We w^ill pint'lj", Marse Charles, we will pint'h\" 
And even after the old man had closed the door, you 
might have heard muttered fragments of his amiable 
intentions, as he trudged back to the kitchen. 

"Weil," began m}' grandfather, rising from the table 
to fill his pipe, "you made a long stay of it in Rich- 
mond. How did you leave the j^oung man ?" 

"Ah, he is nearly well again," said Charley, deftly 
removing a side-bone from the fowl before him. "By 
Jove, I did not know how hungry' I was. That early 
dinner on the boat seems to me now like a far-away 
dream of a thing that never was. I Avonder whether 
this turkey really is the best that old Sucky ever 
raised? How good that tobacco smells!" 

Charley was happy. The bright fire and good cheer, 
after his long, cold, and tiresome ride, the intense con- 
sciousness of being at home once more, but, above all, 
the look of beaming satisfaction on the face of the ven- 
erable but still vigorous old man, who sat smiling upon 
him and enjo3ing his appetite and high spirits, filled 
him with ineffable content. 

"Let me settle with this august bird. Uncle Tom, 
and then I shall be ready to talk to you about Mr. 
Smith, — Don Miff, as the girls call him." 

"Don Miff?— what girls?" 

" The — ah, we gave him that nickname. " I'll explain 
when I get even with this noble fowl and light my 
pipe." 

" Did you," asked my grandfather, advancing cau- 
tiously as a skirmisher, " meet any nice people in 
Eichmond ?" 

"Oh, yes, very nice people up there, — too man}^ of 
them ; made me talk myself nearly to death, — but very 
nice people, of course, very. Look at that chap," 
added he, holding up on the end of his fork a huge 
oyster 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 123 

"You spoke of girls, — did you meet any?" And a 
pang of jealousy shot through the old man's heart, as 
he recalled Dick's aphorism on the universal liability of 
young folks to a certain weakness. 

"Oh, lots! — I'll have to cut this fellow in two, I 
believe." 

" Who were they ?" asked the old man, trying to 
smile. 

"AYho? the girls?" 

" Yes ; 5^ou did not mention any in your letters." 

" Of course not. When did you ever know me to 
write about girls ? As I said, I met lots of them at the 
various houses at which I visited. It seems to me that 
there are girls everywhere." 

" Thank God for it, too." 

" Well, — yes, — as it were ; but you can't expect a 
fellow to remember all their names. Oh, there was 
Lucy Poythress, of course." 

" Yes, I knew she was in Eichmond." 

"And then — and then there was a schoolmate of 
hers, — Miss Mary Eolfe. You know her father, Mr. 
James Eolfe. Brilliant girl, they say, — talks beauti- 
fully — very accomplished, you know, and all that sort 
of thing." 

"Yes, I have heard she is a really charming girl. 
What do you say to our having her as one of our 
Christmas party?" The old man removed his pipe 
from his mouth. "What do you say, Charley?" And 
he glanced at the young man's face with a look that 
was too eager to be shrewd. 

" A capital idea !" exclaimed Charley-, spearing another 
oyster with emphasis. 

The old man drew vigorously on his pipe several 
times, and finding it had gone out, rose for a lighter. 
" You think," said he, puffing between his words as he 
relit his pipe, contemplatively watching the tongue of 
flame darting down into the bowl, "that we should have 
her of the party ?" 

" Most assuredly. She is a fine girl, — you would like 
her. In fact, we must have her here if possible." 

" Yes," said the old man, " yes." And he gazed at the 



124 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

bright coals. He felt that he had not landed his trout. 
" So you didn't lose your heart ?" 

"My heart? Who, I?" And Charley gave a loud 
laugh. 

" The very idea amuses you ?" 

" I should think so ! I suppose you suspect that old 
Cousin Sally's niece — or Cousin Sally's old niece — which- 
ever you please — captivated me ?" 

"No, I was not thinking of Sarah Ann. In fact, I 
didn't know that any one had captivated you— till you 
mentioned it." 

" Well, upon my word, I have finished the last of 
these oysters, — and there is not so much turkey as 
there was." 

"Well, now we will have an old-time whiff together; 
and now begin your ^iory. However, before you do, 
can you think of any other girl w^ho would be an 
acquisition for Christmas ?" 

" Who ? Bless me, Uncle Tom, what could have put 
such a notion into your head ? Oh, I'll tell you, — leave 
it all to Jack- Whack ; he's the ladies' man of the family, 
you know." 

" Yqyj well ; and now fill your pipe and tell me all 
those strange things about that strange Mr. Smith, that 
you promised me in your letters." 

Charley told the story, with one omission. He failed 
to allude to his having invited the Don to visit Elming- 
ton. Omissions to state all manner of things that ordi- 
nary mortals would make haste to mention was one 
of Charlej^'s idiosyncrasies, — so that I suspect that his 
silence on this point w^as premeditated. Another was, 
as I have already hinted, an aversion to expressing an 
opinion of any one, good or bad. But Mr. Whacker 
felt instinctively that Charley had conceived a genuine 
liking for this mysterious stranger. A tone "here, a 
look there, told the tale. Charley's likings, being rare, 
were exceedinglj^ strong. Moreover, they were never, 
I may say, misplaced, and my grandfather knew this. 
So, when Charley had finished his narrative, " You 
have," said he, " interested me deeply. Who cayi he be ? 
But be he who he may, he is obviously no common man." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 125 

Charley puffed away slowly at his pipe. 

"He is a remarkable man," continued my grand- 
father, warming up. 

"He has points about him," said Charley, driven to 
say something. 

"Yes, and characteristic points, highly characteristic 
points," said the old gentleman, with a sort of defiant 
emphasis. 

" He has, beyond question." 

" Charley," began Mr. Whacker, rising and taking a 
lighter, — for he had suifered his pipe to go out, — " don't 
you think" — and he lit the taper — " what do you sa}^," 
he continued, in a hesitating manner, w^hich he tried to 
cover up under pretence of strict attention to the feat 
of adjusting the blaze to the tobacco, — "how would 
it do to invite him here, — just for a week or so, you 
know ?" 

It is, I dare say, a mere whim on my part, but I 
must now beg the contemporary reader to obliterate 
himself for a few pages. 

I must tell you, my descendant-to-the-tenth-power — 
no, you will be that much of a grandson, — my de- 
scendant-to-the-twelfth-power, therefore — I must tell 
you, as a matter of family history, why your ascendant- 
to-the-fourteenth-power hesitated. 

Our common ancestor was a Yirginian, — which 
means, you will doubtless know, that he was hospi- 
table. Again, he was a Yirginian of Leicester County, 
— and that is as much as to say, as I trust a dim tradi- 
tion, at least, shall have informed you, that he was a 
Virginian of Virginians. But, lastly and chiefly, he 
w^as Mr. Thomas Whacker of Elmington. What that 
amounts to you can learn from me alone. 

Our common ancestor was, then, the soul of hospi- 
tality, — hospitality in a certain sense boundless, though 
it was strictly limited and exclusive in a certain direc- 
tion. No dull man or woman was welcome at Elming- 
ton. But his nets seemed to bring in all the queer 
fish that floated about Virginia. I suppose there must 
have been something inborn in him that made odd 
people attractive to him, and him to them, but I have 

11* 



126 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

no doubt that this trait of his was in part due to the 
kind of Bohemian life he led in Europe for several 
years, when he was a young man, mingling, on familiar 
terms, with musicians, actors, painters, and all manner 
of shiftless geniuses, — so that the average humdrum 
citizen possessed little interest for him. If a man could 
only do or say anj^thing that no one else could do or 
say, or do it or say it better than any one else, he had 
a friend in Mr. Whacker. All forms of brightness and 
of humor — any kind of talent, or even oddity — could 
unlock that door, which swung so easily on its hinges. 
And not only men of gifts, but all who had a lively 
appreciation of gifts, were at liberty to make Elming- 
ton their headquarters ; so that, as my memory goes 
back to those days, there rises before me a succession 
of the drollest mortals that were ever seen in one Vir- 
ginia house. Now, I need hardly remind you that com- 
pany of this character has its objections. Men such as 
I have rapidly outlined are not always very eligible 
visitors at a country house. It happens, not unfre- 
quently, that a man w^ho is very entertaining to-day is 
a bore to-morrow, — the day after, a nuisance ; so that 
our grandfather, who was the most unsuspicious of mor- 
tals, and who always took men for what they seemed 
to be on a first interview, was frequently most egre- 
giously taken in, and was often at his wit's end as to how 
to get rid of some treasure he had picked up. In fact, 
Charley used to dread the old gentleman's return from 
the springs in autumn, or the cities in winter; for he 
was quite sure to have invited to Elmington some of the 
people whom he had met there ; and thej^ often proved 
not very profitable acquaintances. In tine, wherever 
he went, he rarely failed to gather more or less gems 
of purest ray serene, many of which turned out, under 
Charley's more scrutinizing eyes, very ordinary pebbles 
indeed. 

Unqualified, however, what I have written would 
give a very erroneous idea of the people our grand- 
lather used to gather around his hospitable board ; for 
I must say that after all deductions have been made, he 
managed, certainly, to get beneath his vine and fig-tree 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 127 

more reallj" clever and interesting people than I Lave 
ever seen in any one house elsewhere. And then, too, 
as there were no ladies at Elmington, I don't know 
that his mistakes mattered much. Still, they were 
sufficiently numerous; and he had begun to lose, not 
indeed his faith in men, so much as in his own ability to 
read them. And just in proportion as waned his confi- 
dence in his own judgment in such matters, he placed 
an ever-heightening estimate upon Charley's; so that, 
in the end, he was always rather nervous upon the ar- 
rival of any of his new-found geniuses, till his taciturn 
friend had indicated, in some way, that he thought 
them unexceptionable. 

Now, Charley had seen Mr. Smith ; our grandfather 
not. Here was a chance. He w^ould throw the re- 
sponsibility upon Charley. In this particular case he 
was especially glad to do so, for there was undoubtedly 
an air of mystery surrounding Mr. Smith, and mysterj'' 
cannot but arouse suspicion. 

Our grandfather continued: "H'm? What do you 
say ? For a week or so ?" 

There was positively something timid in the way he 
glanced at Charley out of the corners of his eyes. And 
now 3'ou may dimly discern what w^as most probably 
Charley's motive for refraining from alluding to his 
having himself invited the Don to Elmington. In a 
spirit of affectionate malice he had deliberately en- 
trapped his old friend into making the proposition. So 
I must believe, at least. 

" By all means," replied Charley, with a cordiality 
that surprised Mr. Whacker. 

"What! Do you say so?" cried our grandfather, 
rubbing his hands delightedly ; and taking out his keys, 
he began to unlock his desk. "How should the letter 
be addressed?" continued he, turning and looking at 
Charley. His face reddened a little as he detected an 
imperfectly suppressed smile in Charley's eyes. He 
was somewhat afraid of that smile. 

" What are you grinning at?" 

"I grinning?" 

"Yes, you ! Didn't you say we should invite him ?" 



128 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" Certainly." 

" Then what's the matter?" 

" It's past eleven," said Charley, glancing at the clock. 

"Is it possible!" 

" And then the mail doesn't leave till day after to- 
morrow." 

" Oh I" ejaculated our impulsive ancestor, " I had 
not thought of that!" 



CHAPTER XIX. 



Ten days or so have passed. 

" Well, Dick," said Mr. Whacker, " I suppose we have 
seen our breakfast ?" 

Dick gave his company-bow, glancing, as the gentle- 
men rose from the table, with the imposing look of a 
generalissimo, at a half-grown boy who acted as his aide- 
de-camp whenever there was even one guest at Elming- 
ton. It was only, in fact, when our small family was 
alone that this worthy served as w^hat would be called, 
in the language of our day, a " practical" waiter (there 
existing, it would seem, at the period of this writing, 
to judge from the frequency of that adjective upon 
sign-boards, hordes of theoretical blacksmiths, cobblers, 
and barbers, against whom the public are thus tacitly 
warned). For, whenever we had company, Dick w^ould 
perform the duties rather of a commander than of a 
private, — magis imperatoris quam militis, — summoning 
to his assistance one or more lads who were too young 
for steady farm work, — or were so considered, at least, 
during those times of slavery. Zip, — for under this 
name went, in defiance of all the philology and all the 
Grimm's Laws in the world, the boy in question, — (he 
had been christened Moses,) — Zip sprang nimbly for- 
ward under that austere glance of authority and began 
to clear the table, — half trembling under the severe e^-e 
of a chief for whom there was one way of gathering 
up knives, one method of piling plate upon plate, one 
of removing napkins, — one and only one. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 129 

"Dick," said my grandfather, as soon as pipes were 
lit, "there is a fire in the hbrary?" 

" Yes, sir ; I made one de fust thing dis morning." 

" Ah, well, Charley, suppose you take Mr. Smith over 
then ; you will be more comfortable there than here. I 
shall follow you in half an hour or so." 

" This way," said Charley. And the two young men, 
passing through the house and descending a few steps, 
found themselves upon a pavement of powdered shells, 
w^hich led to a frame building, painted white, and one 
story in height, which stood about fifty yards westward 
of the mansion. This they entered by the left door of 
two that opened upon the yard, and found themselves 
in my grandfather's library and sitting-room. It was 
fitted up with shelves, built into the walls, upon which 
was to be found a miscellaneous library of about two 
thousand volumes ; the furniture consisting of a very 
wide and solid square table, a couple of lounges, and a 
number of very comfortable chairs of various patterns. 
Charley took up his position with his back to the fire, 
while the Don sauntered round the room, running his 
eye along the shelves, and occasionally taking down 
and examining a volume, and the two chatted quietly 
for some time. 

" The old gentleman is coming over. I hear his step. 
He has something to show you." 

" Ah ?" said the Don, looking around the room. 

" It is not in this room ; it is in the next, — or, rather, 
it is that room itself," added Charley, pointing to a door. 
"That room is the apple of his eye. I always reserve 
for him the pleasure of exhibiting it to his friends." 

" Looking over our books ?" interrupted my grand- 
father, entering the room briskly, with a ruddy winter 
glow upon his fine face. 

" Yes ; and I observe that you have a large and capital 
selection of French classics." 

" Yes ; I picked them up when I was abroad as a 
young man. You read French ? Ah ! Then this will 
be the place for you on rainy days when you can- 
not hunt. Charley, have you shown Mr. Smith the 
Hall ?" 



130 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" ISTot yet." 

''No?" ejaculated ray grandfather, with a surprise 
that was surprising, seeing that Charley had given him 
that identical answer on a hundred similar occasions 
previously. " Mr. Smith," said he, walking toward the 
inner door, " we have a room here that we think rather 
unique in its way." And he placed his hand upon the 
knob. "We call it 'The Hall.' Walk in!" And he 
opened wide the door, stepping back with the air of an 
artist withdrawing a curtain from a new production of 
his pencil. 

The Don advanced to the threshold of the room, and 
giving one glance within, turned to his host with a look 
of mingled admiration and surprise. The old gentle- 
man, who was as transparent as glass, fairly beamed 
with gratification at observing the pleased astonishment 
of his guest. " Walk in, walk in," said he, wreathed in 
smiles. " Be careful," added he, laying hold of the 
Don's arm, as the hitter's feet seemed disposed to fly 
from under him, — " the floor is as smooth as glass." 

" So I perceive. Why, what on earth can you do with 
such a room in the country?" And the Don lifted his 
eyes to the very lofty ceiling. 

" That's the question !" observed Mr. Whacker, giving 
Charley a knowing look. 

" One would sa}^ it was a ball-room," said the Don, 
looking down upon the perfectly polished floor, in 
which their figures stood reflected as in a mirror. 

" It would do very well for that," said the old gentle- 
man. " I think it would puzzle you to find the joints 
in that floor," he added, stooping down and running 
his thumb nail across a number of the very narrow 
planks. " You observe, the room is ceiled throughout 
with heart-pine, — no plastering anywhere. I used, as 
you see, the darker wood for the floor, and selected the 
lightest-colored planks for the ceiling ; while I made 
the two shades alternate on the walls. You think so? 
Well, I think it ought to be, for I was several years 
collecting and selecting the lumber for this room, — not 
a plank that I did not inspect carefully. And so you 
think it would make a good ball-room? So it would, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 131 

in fact. Thirt}- feet by twenty would give room for a 
goodly number of twinkling feet." 

" I see a piano at the other end of the room." 

" Yes," said Mr. Whacker, leaning forward, his fingers 
interlaced behind his back, and his smiling e^^es fixed 
upon the floor. He was giving the Don time, — he had 
not seen everything in the room. 

" What !" exclaimed the latter, suddenly, as his eyes 
chanced to stray into a comer of the room, which was 
rather dark with its closed blinds. " Is not that a violin- 
case standing in the corner?" 

"Yes, that's a violin case," rejoined Mr. Whacker, 
softly, while his eyes made an involuntary movement 
in the direction of the neighboring corner. 

"And another!" exclaimed the Don, "and still 
another ! and, upon my word, there is a violoncello in 
the fourth corner!" 

My grandfather threw his head back as though he 
would gaze upon the ceiling, but closed his eyes ; and 
rocking gently back and forth, and softly flapping upon 
the floor with both feet, was silent for a while. He was 
content. The surprise of the stranger had been com- 
plete,— dramatically complete,— his wondering admira- 
tion obvious and sincere. 

Charley watched his friend quietly, with a tender 
humor in his eyes. He had witnessed a number of 
similar scenes in this room, but this had been the most 
entirely successful of them all. 

"The third box," resumed my grandfather, softly, 
w4th his eyes still closed, and still rocking from heel to 
toe, "contains a viola." 

" A viola ! Then you have a complete set of quartet 
instruments !" And he turned, looking from case to case, 
as if to make sure that he saw aright. "What a droll, 
divorced air they have in this great room, each solitary 
in his own corner ! Surely you can never — " 

" Never use them ?" And my grandfather paused with 
a smile on his face. "I find this room rather cold. Let 
us adjourn to the Library and I will tell you how we 
manaire." 



132 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTEE XX. 

So, while Mr. Whacker is explaining matters to the 
Don, I shall make things clear to the reader. 

My grandfather, when a young man, spent several 
years in Europe. He was an enthusiast in every fibre, 
and one of his enthusiasms was music. Very naturally, 
therefore, he took lessons while abroad, — lessons on the 
viohn, the piano being held, in Virginia, an instrument 
fit only for women and foreigners. But, undertaking 
the violin for the first time when he was a grown man, 
he never acquired, ardently as he practised, anything 
like a mastery over that difficult instrument. At any 
rate, returning to Virginia and finding himself no longer 
in an artist-atmosphere, his ardor gradually cooled, so 
that until about ten or twelve years before the period 
of my story, all I can remember of my grandfather's 
musical performances is his occasional fiddling for me 
and such of my young school-mates as chanced to visit 
me. During the Christmas holidays, especially, when 
Elmington was always crowded with young people, it 
was an understood thing that Uncle Tom, as most of 
his neighbors' children delighted to call him, was to be 
asked to play. Christmas Eve, notably, was no more 
Christmas Eve, at Elmington, without certain jigs and 
reels executed by " Uncle Tom," than without two 
enormous bowls — one of eggnog, the other of apple- 
toddy — concocted by him with his own hands. The 
thing had grown into an institution, more and more 
fixed as the years went by. On such occasions, im- 
mediately after the old gentleman had taken his second 
glass of eggnog, — not before, — it was in order to call 
for his annual exhibition of virtuosity; whereupon 
Charley — no one else could be trusted to bear the pre- 
cious burden — was despatched to my grandfather's 
chamber, where, upon a special shelf in a closet, la}', 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 133 

from Christmas to Christmas, a certain old violin, 
which rarely saw the light at any other time. 

But, about a dozen years before the events I am now 
describing, there came a German musician — Wolffgang 
Amadeus Waldteufel chanced to be his name — and es- 
tablished himself at Leicester Court-House as a piano 
teacher, — or, rather, he gave lessons on any and all 
instruments, as will be the case in the country. 

Herr Waldteufel was an excellent pianist, and, in 
fact, a thorough musician. Strangers from the cities, 
when they heard him play at Elmington, were always 
surprised to find so brilliant a performer in the country, 
and used to wonder why he should thus hide his light 
under a bushel. But the truth is, a man generally finds 
his place in the world, and Herr Waldteufel was no 
exception. In the frequent hinges of his elbow was to 
be found the explanation of his losing his patronage, in 
city after city ; so that it was natural enough that he 
found himself, at last, giving lessons in a village, and 
in the houses of the neighboring gentry, upon piano, 
fiddle, flute, guitar, and, shades of Sebastian Bach! 
must I even add — the banjo? 

And, notwithstanding his weakness, the honest Herr 
was an excellent teacher. True, he did occasionally 
fail to put in an appearance for a lesson, when no ex- 
cuse was to be found in the weather ; but his patrons 
learned to forgive him ; and, as he was very amiable 
and obliging, he was a general favorite, and welcome 
everywhere. 

Mr. Whacker had not been slow to form the acquaint- 
ance of the Herr and to invite him to Elmington ; at 
first under the pretext of having him tune his piano. 
The tuning over, the Herr was naturally asked to 
play; and, one thing leading to another, he and Mr. 
Whacker soon found themselves trying over a slow 
movement, here and there, out of a musty and dusty 
old edition of Mozart's Sonatas. The music they made 
was, I dare say, wretched, as my grandfather had not 
played anything of that kind for years ; but it would 
have been hard to say which of the two was most de- 
lighted, — the German, at finding so enthusiastic a lover 

12 



134 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

of his art in a Yirginia country gentleman ; my grand- 
father, at the prospect of being able to renew his ac- 
quaintance with his idolized Mozart, whom he always 
persisted in placing at the head of all composers. The 
Elmington dinner and wines did not lessen the Herr's 
estimate of the treasure he had found ; and (Mr. 
Whacker scouting the very idea of his leaving him 
that night) they separated at the head of the stairs, 
at one o'clock in the morning, after a regular musical 
orgie, vowing that they had not seen the last of it. 
Nor had they; for before Herr Waldteufel had set out, 
in the morning, for a round of lessons in the neighbor- 
hood, he had promised to return, the following Friday, 
to dinner. And so, from that day forth, he was sure 
to drop in upon us every Friday afternoon ; and regu- 
larly, after dinner, he and my grandfather would fall 
to and play and play until the}" were exhausted. Next 
day the Herr would sally forth, and, after giving his 
lessons, return in time for dinner; after which they 
would have another time together. 

Herr Waldteufel always spent Sunday with us; but 
my grandfather would never play on that day. I sup- 
pose it would be hardly possible for a man who has 
spent several years on the Continent to see anything 
"sinful" in music on Sunday; but neither is it possible 
for any man, even though he be a philosopher, alto- 
gether to evade the pressure of surrounding convictions. 
Now, for the solidity — it wouldn't do to say stolidity — 
of our Sabbatarianism, we Virginians may safely defy 
all rivalry. Yirginia is not only one of the Middle 
States, she is the middle State of the Union in many 
other respects, but especially in her theological attitude. 
While, to the north and east of her, religious systems 
that have weathered the storms of centuries are rock- 
ing to their foundations, nay, tumbling before our very 
eyes, undermined by the incessant rush of opinions 
ever newer, more radical, more aggressive; and while, 
to the southward and westward, we see the instability 
and recklessness inseparable from younger communi- 
ties, the Old Dominion stands immovable as a rock; 
believing what she has always believed, and seriously 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 135 

minded so to believe to the end of time, — astronomy, 
geolog}", and biology to the contraiy notwithstanding. 
Kow, of all the religious convictions of your true Vir- 
ginian this is the most deeply rooted, — the most uni- 
versally accepted, — that man was made for the Sabbath, 
not the Sabbath for man. Again : according to our 
biblical exegesis the word Sabbath does not really mean 
Sabbath, but Sunday, — the last day of the week, that 
is, being synonymous with the first. Now, as first is 
the opposite of last, — mark the geometric cogency of 
the reasoning, — so is work the contrary of play. 
Hence it is clear to us (however others may laugh) 
that the commandment forbidding all manner of work 
on the last day of the week was really meant to in- 
hibit all manner of play on the first; Q. E. D. 

1 must admit, however, that when, one Sunday, after 
returning from church, the Herr opened the piano, 
"just to try over" the hymns we had heard, my grand- 
father made no objection ; and then, when his fingers 
somehow strayed into a classical andante, the old gen- 
tleman either believed or affected to believe that it was 
a Teutonic form of religious music, and called for 
more. And so, things going from bad to worse, it 
came about that in the end we had hours of piano 
music every Sunday, to the great scandal of some of 
our neighbors, who did not fail to hint that the Herr 
was an atheist and my grandfather not far from one. 

But Mr. Whacker would persist in drawing the line 
at the fiddle ; making a distinction perfectly intelligible 
to all true Virginians, — though his course in this matter 
ever remained a sore puzzle to the warped and effete 
European brain of Herr Wolffgang Amadeus Wald- 
teufel. 

For many months — for two or three years, in fact — 
after this arrangement was set on foot, my grandfather 
was at fever heat with his music. To the amazement, 
not to add amusement of his neighbors and friends, he 
fell to practising with all the ardor of a girl in her 
graduating year; nor was he content to stop there. 
He set every one else, over whom he had any influ- 
ence, to scraping catgut. His favorite text during this 



136 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

period, and one upon which he preached with much 
vigor and eloquence, was the insipidity of American 
life, — its total lack of the aesthetic element. 

" What rational relaxations have we ? None ! "Whist 
is adapted to those among us of middle age, or the 
old; but whist is, at the best, unsocial. Dancing 
gives happiness to the young only. Hunting affords 
amusement during one season and to one sex only. 
You cannot read forever; so that the greater part of 
our leisure-time we spend in gaping or gabbling, — bor- 
ing or being bored. How different it w^ould be if all 
our young people would take the trouble to make mu- 
sicians of themselves! one taking one instrument, 
another another. Why, look at our neighbor up the 
river, with his five sons and five daughters ! Why — 
PSHAW !" — for, invariably, when he got to this parti- 
cular neighbor, the bright vision of a possible domestic 
orchestra of ten — or twelve rather — would seem to rob 
him of the power of utterance, and he would pace up 
and down his library with an expression of enthusi- 
astic disgust on his heated features. 

Now, among the victims of Mr. Whacker's views in 
this regard was his grandson, the teller of this tale ; 
and I believe it was really one of the most serious of 
the minor troubles of his life that he could never make 
a musician of me. As it w^as, he ultimately gave me 
up as a hopeless case. But with Charley his reward 
-was greater. Charley had readily consented to take 
lessons on the violin from Herr Waldteufel, as well be- 
fore he entered the University, as during his vacations ; 
and when, after he left college, he came to live with us, 
he was not likely to give up his music, as the reader 
can very well understand. During the week he and 
his friend used to play duos together, and they made 
very pleasant music too, and on Fridays and Saturdays 
they would perform transcriptions (at making which 
the Herr was really clever) for two violins and piano. 

Things went on in this way for a year or two ; until, 
in fact, the summer of 1855. It was during the sum- 
mer of that year, it will be remembered, that Norfolk 
was so terribly scourged by yellow fever, and my 



TEE SrORY OF DON MIFF. 137 

grandfather, instead of going, as usual, to the springs, 
had remained at Elmington, and opened his doors to 
his friends and other refugees from the stricken city. 
Now it so happened that, a few weeks before the epi- 
demic declared itself, a young French or— to speak 
more accurately— Belgian violinist had dropped down 
into :N'orfolk, from somewhere, in search of a living ; 
who, panic-stricken upon the outbreak of the fever, had 
fled, he hardly knew whither; but happening to find 
his way to Leicester Court-House, was not long in fall- 
ing in with Herr Waldteufel ; and he, exulting in the 
treasure he had found, brought him to Elmington on 
the first Friday afternoon thereafter ensuing. 

"I have inform Monsieur Yillemain," whispered the 
Herr, at the first opportunity, "dot Elmingtone vas 
so full as a teek von peoples, but he can shleep mit 
me. But you know, Barrone, vy I have bring dis 
Frenchman, oder Beige, to Elmingtone?" (He would 
insist upon calling Mr. Whacker Baron.) 

" I suppose he is a refugee, and you knew — " 
"Arefuchee! ja wohl! Ach ! but mein Gott, Bar- 
rone," exclaimed he, clasping his hands, "vat for a 
feedler ist dot mon !" 
" You don't tell me so !" 

"Donnerwetter!" rejoined the Herr, rolling up his 
eyes, "you joost hear him one time, dot's all!" 

From that day in August until the following Christ- 
mas M. Yillemain was'a member of our household; 
and even then he took his departure much against my 
grandfather's will. His coming among us enabled Mr. 
Whacker to do what he had scarcely dreamed of before, 
— to establish, namely, a string quartet. 

I shall never forget the first meeting of the club. 
Waldteufel, who was already a tolerable violinist, had 
readily agreed to take the violoncello part, and Charley, 
though with many misgivings, had consented to tackle 
the viola; and the Herr was despatched to Baltimore 
to purchase these two instruments. Upon their arrival, 
it was agreed that the novices should have two weeks' 
practice before any attempt at concerted music should 
be made, Waldteufel taking his 'cello to his rooms at 

12* 



138 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



the Court-IIouse, while Charley was to attack the viola 
under the direction of M. Villetnain ; but Mr. Whacker 
grew so impatient for a trial of their mettle that, on 
Friday morning of the first week, he sent a buggy for 
the Herr, requesting him to bring his instrument with 
him ; and, accordingly, just before dinner, up drove 
the bass, his big fiddle occupj'ing the lion's share of the 
vehicle. Dinner over, my grandfather could allow but 
one pipe before the attack began. The centre-table in 
tlie parlor was soon cleared of books; the stands were 
placed upon it ; the performers took their seats ; the 
parts were distributed, "A" sounded, the instruments 
])ut in tune. The composition th^j had selected was 
that quartet of Haydn (in C major) known as the 
Kaiser Quartet, in the slow movement of which is 
found the famous Austrian Hymn. 

"We are all then ready?" asked M. Yillemain (in 
French), placing his violin under his chin. "Ah!" 
added he, in that short sharp tone so peculiarly French, 
and the bows descended upon the strings. 

It was worth while to watch the bearing and coun- 
tenances of the four players. 

The Frenchman, entirely master of his instrument 
and his part, — glancing only now and then at his music, 
— ejaculating words of caution or encouragement; 
Waldteufel, taking in the meaning of the printed signs 
without an effort, but doubtful as to his fingering, — cor- 
recting his intonation with a rapid tslide of his hand 
and an apologetic smile and nod to his brother artist; 
Charley, serene and imperturbable, but putting forth 
all that was in him; while my grandfather, conscious 
that the second violin was most likely to prove the 
block of stumbling, and anxious not to be utterly out- 
done by the " bo>-8," — his eyes riveted upon the page 
before him, his face overspread with a certain stage- 
fright pallor, — played as though the fate of kingdoms 
hung upon his bow. At last, not without a half-dozen 
break-downs, they approached the end of the first move- 
ment; and when, with a sharp twang, they struck, all 
together, the last note, my grandfather's exultation 
knew no bounds. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 139 

" By Jove," cried he, slapping his thigh, — " by Jove, 
we can do it!" And congratulations were general. 

But the culmination of the enthusiasm occurred 
during the performance of the slow movement. Here 
the air, a gem of imperishable beauty, passes from one 
instrument to another. When the theme falls to the 
second violin, the violino primo accompanies, the viola 
and 'cello being silent, if I remember aright. Here 
was Mr. Whacker's opportunity. The movement is 
without technical difficulties, but the mere idea that he 
had a solo to perform made the old gentleman as ner- 
vous as a graduating Miss. He lightly touched his 
strings to be quite sure they were in tune — gave a 
turn to a peg — wiped his spectacles — blew his nose — 
lifted the violin to his left ear, softly plucking D and 
G- as though still in doubt — smoothed down the page 
— tightened his bow — and, with a bow to M. Yillemain, 
began. 

He had scarcely played a half-dozen notes when the 
Herr cried out, " Groot for de Barrone!" 

" Bravo, Secondo !" echoed the Primo from the midst 
of his rapid semiquavers. 

Deeply gratified and encouraged, the old man gave 
an unconscious but perceptible toss of the head ; and 
his snowy locks trembled upon his temples. Charley 
lifted his eyes from the floor with a sigh of relief. 
His anxiety lest his old friend should break down had 
been touching to see, — the more so as he had tried so 
hard to conceal it. 

The performer reached the appoggiatura about the 
middle of the air, and turned it not without grace. It 
was nothing to do, — absolutely nothing, — but the two 
artists were bent on giving applause without stint. 

^^Parbleu! Tourne a merveiller' cried the First 
Yiolin, in his native language. 

"Py Tam!" shouted the Bass, in an unknown 
tongue. 

" Je crois Men!" rejoined the Belgian, as though he 
understood him. 

One of the Herr's foibles was his fondness for mak- 
ing what it was his happiness to consider puns in the 



140 THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 

English language. " De Barrone served us a good turn 
dere!" he whispered to his unoccupied comrade. 

The Yiola smiled without taking his eyes off the 
Second Fiddle. 

"You take?" inquired the Violoncello, stimulating 
his neighbor's sense of humor by a gentle punch in 
the ribs with his bow. 

"Very good, very good!" answered Charley; and 
my grandfather, taking the compliment to himself, 
rather laid himself out on a crescendo and forte that he 
encountered just then. 

Mr. Whacker had practised his part over, hundreds 
of times, during the week preceding its execution by 
him on this occasion, and he really played it very credi- 
tably. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that, at 
its end, he should have been greeted with a small tem- 
pest of clappings and bravos and goots ; and it re- 
mained his conviction ever after, that of all the quar- 
tets of Haydn, the Kaiser most nearly approaches the 
unapproachable perfection of Mozart. 

He looked at the matter from the Second Yiolin 
point of view. Who shall cast the first stone ? 



CHAPTEE XXI. 



Meanwhile, Mr. Whacker has not been idle. He has 
been giving his wondering and interested guest an ac- 
count of what I have just narrated to the reader; 
omitting, naturally, many things that I have said ; 
saying many things that I have omitted ; telling his 
story, that is, in his own way. Let us drop in upon 
them and see where they are. 

"This was in 1855, — five years ago. How have you 
managed to supply M. Yillemain's place during all this 
time? Have you succeeded in developing the local 
talent?" 

" Local talent ? Bless j^ou, no. I labored faithfully 
with my grandson, but had to give him up, — no taste 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 141 

that way. Then there was a young fellow, the son of 
a neighbor, — young William Jones, — who is now at the 
University. I had great hopes of him when he began 
to take lessons ; but the scamp was too lazy to practise 
his exercises, and pretended he couldn't see any tune in 
classical music. Perfectl}^ absurd ! However," quickly 
added Mr. Whacker, observing that his guest was 
silent, "the majority are of his way of thinking. Bill 
is a capital fiddler, however, and is invaluable at our 
dancing parties. He will be down Christmas, and you 
will hear him." 

" I should like very much to do so," replied the Don, 
rather stiffly. 

"His 'Arkansas Traveller' is an acknowledged m- 
m-m-masterpiece," chimed in Charley, "and his 'B-B- 
B-Billy in the Low G-rounds' the despair of every other 
fiddler in the county." 

"1 should like very much indeed to hear him," said 
the stranger, laughing heartily at Charley's neatly 
turned phrase, over which his stammering threw a 
quaint halo of added humor. " And so you had to give 
him up also, Mr. Whacker ?" 

" Yes, I had to give them all up, except Charley 
here." And he gave that young man's knee a vigorous 
slap, accompanied with an admiring glance. " You 
could hardly guess how I manage. You see Mr. Wald- 
teufel visits Baltimore twice a year to lay in a stock of 
music and other articles needed by his pupils, and he 
has instructions to look about him and pick up, if pos- 
sible, some violinist newly landed in the country, or one 
temporarily out of employment; or perhaps he may 
find an artist desiring a vacation, to whom a few weeks 
in the country would be a tempting bait. All such he 
is at liberty to invite to Elmington, — provided, of 
course," added Mr. Whacker, with a wave of his hand, 

" provided they be proper persons." 

" Or the reverse," soliloquized Charley, prying nar- 
rowly, as he spoke, into the bowl of his pipe. 

"Or the what?" 

" I addressed an observation to my p-p-p-pipe." 

" Well, suppose they are sometimes rather — in fact — 



142 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

rather — what difference, pray, does it make to us two 
bachelors? You will no doubt think, Mr. Smith, that 
this is a quartet under difficulties, — and so it is, but it 
is a quartet after all. If not, in dissenting phrase, a 
'stated,' it is, at least, an 'occasional service of song.'" 

" Goot for de Barrone !" quoted Charley. 

"Then again, I not infrequently invite the leader of 
some watering-place band to drop in on us, for a week 
or so, on the closing of the season at the Springs. 
They are generally excellent musicians, and glad 
enough, after a summer of waltzes and polkas, to re- 
fresh themselves with a little real music. So you see 
that, after all, where there is a will there is a way. 
Provide yourself with a cage, and some one will be sure 
to give you a bird; build a house, and — " 

" The r-r-r-rats will soon come." 

" I was going to say a wife — " 

" Oh, then, instead of r-r-r-rats, it's br-br-br-brats !" 

" You see," continued my grandfather, laughing, "I 
have the Hall there for a cage." 

" Y^'es, but where is your bird, your fourth player?" 

" Yery true, the bird is lacking just at present. The 
truth is, we have had poor luck of late. We have not 
had any quartet music for a year, — not even our quar- 
tets where the piano takes the place of one of the 
violins, owing to the absence of our young-lady artiste. 
Bj- the way, I forgot to tell you, in speaking of our 
local talent, that one of our girls is an excellent pianist, 
and that through her we have been enabled (until the 
past year) to keep up our quartet evenings, in the ab- 
sence of a first violin ; the main trouble being that I 
am hardly equal to my part — that of the first violin— rin 
these compositions, — Lucy Poythress. You know her ?" 
asked Mr. Whacker, on observing the sudden interest 
in the Don's face. 

" Why, Uncle Tom, Mr. Smith saved her lifel Don't 
you remember ?" 

" Of course ! of course ! you must pardon an old 
man's tricks of memory!" 

" Miss Poythress is a good musician ?" 

" Oh, wonderful, we think. She was the only one of 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 143 

Mr. Waldteiifel's pupils who had the least fancy for 
classical music. She seemed to feel its meaning from 
the very first, and I hardly know what we should have 
done without her. For several 3'ears — ever since she 
was fourteen, in fact — she has been playing with us ; 
in quartet when we needed her, a solo between our 
Haydn and Mozart when we happened to have a first 
violin. You should know her, — know her well, I mean. 
So much character, and yet so gentle ! Such depth of 
soul! In fact, she is an incomparable girl! I must 
confess, I never cease to wonder how Charley, here — " 

" There 3'ou go again, Uncle Tom !" 

" This good-for-nothing fellow, Mr. Smith, has, for 
several years, been crossing the river, Friday after- 
noons, to fetch her and her mother to our quartet 
parties, — taking them back, and spending the night 
under the same roof with this noble girl,^breakfasting 
with her next morning, — and yet — Where would you 
find another sister, eh ?" 

Charley rose, and, after walking about the room and 
glancing at the books in an aimless sort of way, with- 
out other reply than a smile, descended the steps and 
stood on the lawn with his fingers interlaced behind 
his back. 

" That's what he would have said," added Mr. 
Whacker in an undertone, " had you not been present ; 
or else, that if Mrs. Poythress were his mother-in-law, 
what should he do for a mother ? He is a singular 
fellow, — a 'regular character,' as the saj'ing is. He 
has the greatest aversion to giving expression to his 
feelings, and fancies that he hides them, — though ho 
succeeds about as well as the fabled ostrich. The truth 
is, he has the warmest attachment for Lucy (I wish it 
were only a little warmer), but a still greater affection 
for her mother. There are, in fact," added Mr. Whacker, 
lowering his voice into a mysterious whisper, " peculiar 
reasons for his devotion to her and hers to him, — but it 
is a sad story which I will not go into ; but, for ten or 
fifteen years — ever, at least, since a cruel bereavement 
she experienced — he has made it a rule to spend, if at 
all possible, one night of every week under her roof. 



144 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

This weekly visit is a pleasure to Charley, but it seems 
to be a necessity Avith poor Mrs. Poythress. No 
weather can keep him back. Fair or foul, go he will ; 
and, on one occasion, he spent a night in the water, 
clinging to his capsized boat. ' I can't help it, Uncle 
Tom,' he will say; ' she misses my visit so.' " 

"My God!" cried the stranger, in a voice of piercing 
anguish ; and, leaping from his seat, he stood with his 
temples pressed between his hands and his powerful 
frame convulsed with emotion. 

Had my grandfather been a man of more tact, he 
could not have failed to remark in the dancing eyes, 
twitching mouth, and pallid features of his guest the 
symptoms of a coming storm. As it was, it burst upon 
him like a bolt from a cloudless sk}^. He stood aghast ; 
and to the eager inquiring glances of Charley, who 
had sprung into the room on hearing the cry and the 
noise of the falling chair, he could only return, for 
answer, a look of utter bewilderment. The stranger 
had turned, on Charley's entrance upon the scene, and 
was supporting his head upon his hand, against the 
sash of the rear window. 

" I cannot imagine r silently declaimed and disclaimed 
my grandfather. 

" I hope — " began Charley, advancing. 

The Guest, as though afraid to trust his voice, with 
a turn of his head flashed a kindly smile upon Charle}", 
accompanied by a deprecatory motion of the hand, and 
again averted his face as though not yet master of his 
features ; but, a moment after, he straightened himself, 
suddenly, and turning, advanced towards his host. 

" Mr. Whacker," he began, with a grave smile, " I 
beg you a thousand pardons. There are certain par- 
allelisms in life — I mean that you inadvertently touched 
a chord that quite overmastered me for the moment. 
Forgive me." And, taking my grandfather's hand, he 
bowed over it with deep humility. Turning then to 
Charley, who, the reader will bear in mind, had not 
heard the words of Mr. Whacker that had wrought the 
explosion, the Guest, to Charley's great astonishment, 
grasped both his hands with a fervid grip, but averted 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 145 

look; then abruptly dropping his hands, he seized his 
hat and strode out of the door; leaving ouv two friends 
in blank amazement. They stood staring at each other 
with wide eyes. At last, Charley raised his hand and 
tapped his forehead with his forefinger, then went to 
the door and looked out. 

" By Jove," cried he, " he is making straight for the 
river!" And, hatless as he was, he sprang to the ground 
and started after him, at a run — for the Guest was 
swinging along with giant strides. Charley's heart 
beat quick, when the stranger, reaching the shore, 
stopped suddenly, stretching out both his arms toward 
the opposite bank with wild, passionate gestures. The 
pursuer was about to cry out, Avhen the pursued, turn- 
ing sharply to the left, moved on again, as rapidly as 
before. It was then that, either hearing Charley's 
hurrying steps, or by chance turning his head, he 
saw that he was followed. He stopped instantly; and, 
coming forward to meet Charley: 

" I must ask pardon again," said he, with extended 
hand. " I should have told you that I was going out 
for a good long walk. I shall be back before din- 
ner." 

"All right!" 

The Guest doffed his hat and began to move on 
again ; but Charley, seized with a sudden remnant of 
suspicion, stopped him with a motion of his hand. 
"Eemember," said he, going close up to him, and 
speaking in a low but earnest tone, — " remember, you 
have two good friends yonder." And, with a toss of his 
upturned thumb, he pointed, over his shoulder, towards 
the house, which lay behind them; and young Fro- 
bisher, feeling that he had said much, cast his eyes 
upon the ground, bashful as a girl. 

"I believe you," said the guest; "and," he added 
with earnestness, "the belief is much to me — much, — 
see you at dinner." 

Charley, returning, found Mr. Whacker standing on 
the lawn, awaiting, with some anxiety, his report. 

" It's all right, I think. Look at him ! See how he is 
booming along the bank! But, Uncle Tom, how on 
G k 13 



146 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

earth did you and Mr. Smith manage to get up those 
theatricals ?? 

" Hang me if I know ! We were talking, as quietly 
as possible, about some trivial matter or other, — cn- 
tirei}^ trivial, F assure you, — and, all of a sudden, up he 
leaped in the air as though he had been shot. Let me 
see, what were we talking about?" And Mr. Whacker 
rested his forehead upon his hand, " Let — me — see. 
No, I can't for the life of me remember. The ' theat- 
ricals,' as you call them, must have driven everything 
out of my head ; but they were nothings that we were 
sa3n'ng, 1 assure you." 

"You remember that, when I left the room, you 
were teasing me about not falling in love with Lucy 
Poythress?'' 

"Yes, yes, yes; now I have it! Well, after you 
went out, I told him vv^hat friends you and Mrs. Poj^- 
thress were, and how you paid her a weekl}^ visit, rain 
or shine, — ah, j'es, and how once you were upset, when 
you would cross the river in spite of my remonstrances, 
and so on and so on." 

"That was all?" 

"Every word. Why, you were not out of the room 
two minutes!" 

"H'm!" And Charley slowly filled his pipe, and, 
lighting it, went out upon the lawn, where he walked 
haltingly up and down for some time. Quickly rais- 
ing his eyes at last, and fixing them inquiringly upon 
the Poythress mansion, nestling across the river, in its 
clump of trees, he gazed at it with a look, now intent, 
now abstracted. "Can it be?" he muttered; and he 
stood long, chin upon breast, buried in thought ; but 
what these thoughts were he breathed to no man. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. \A\ 



CHAPTER XXII. 

So, after all, my grandfather lost bis opportunity of 
explaining to the Don how he came to build the Hall. 
No doubt he will do so as soon as the latter returns 
from his walk. But there are reasons why I prefer to 
give my own account of the matter. The truth is, I 
believe my narration will be more exactly in accord- 
ance with the facts of the case than Mr. Whacker's 
would be. For, my grandfather (though as truthful 
as ever man was) having, like the rest of us, a great 
deal of human nature in him, did not always see very 
clearly what his own motives were; and, had he been 
asked why he had constructed this rather superfluous 
building, would have given an ans^ver at variance with 
what Charley's or mine would have been. Now, had 
either of us been questioned, confidential!}', and apart 
from our friend, we would have unhesitatingly affirmed 
that he had built the Hall as a home for his quartet; 
but had he, perchance, overheard us, he would have 
denied this, and not without heat. And this is easily 
explicable. 

On the whole subject of music — music, whether 
quartet or solo, vocal or instrumental — Mr. Whacker 
liad grown sore, and as nearlj^ irritable as his strong 
nature admitted of His neighbors had worried him. 
They — and who shall wonder at it? — had naturally 
been filled with amazement — and, what is harder to 
bear — amusement — when their old friend had suddenly, 
at his time of life, burst out, as the homely phrase runs, 
in a fresh place, — and of this he could not but be aware; 
so that in the end he grew so sensitive under their 
jokes that he altogether gave over inviting even his 
nearest neighbors to be present at the Elmington musi- 
cal performances. " Well, I hear your grandfather has 
got a new Dutchman," — that was the way one old gen- 
tleman used to speak of the arrival at Elmington of 
each successive find of Waldtcufel's in Baltimore; and 



148 THE STORY OF DON MJFF. 

then his sides would shake. [N'aturally enough, my 
grandfather grew more and more reticent, under the 
circumstances, as to his musical doings and projects. 

Now, the Elmington mansion was, originally, like 
most of the residences of theYirginia gentry, a rather 
plain and ill-planned structure. I dare say it had never 
occurred to the ancestral Whacker who contrived it that 
any one of its rooms would ever be acoustically tested 
by a string quartet. At anj^ rate, my grandfather found 
his parlor, with its thick carpet and hcav}^ furniture, 
very unsatisfactory as a concert-room, and resolved to 
build a better. True, he himself never uttered a word 
to this effect. Like a skilful strategist, he kept his 
front and flanks well covered as he advanced upon his 
objective-point. He began his forward movement with 
some skill. 

The Virginians of that day, as is well known, with 
a hospitality that defied all arithmetic, used to stow 
away in their houses more people in proportion to the 
number of the rooms than was at all justifiable, — and 
a marvellous good time they all had too, — the necessity 
for extra ventilation being met by the happy provision 
of nature, that no true Virginian ever shuts a door. 

I am far from claiming, my dear boy, that these an- 
cestors of yours were ehtitled to any credit for their 
hospitality. For, even in our day of Mere Progress, 
we have ascertained that this is but a semibarbarous 
virtue, while, in your day of Perfected Sweetness and 
Light, it will be classed, doubtless, among the entirely 
savage vices. I am writing neither eulogium nor 
apology. I draw pictures merely. You and your day 
must draw the moral. 

Well, Field-Marshal Whacker began operations by 
thfbwing out the suggestion, every now and then, that 
the Library would be more comfortable to the young 
men who were sometimes crowded into it, on gala occa- 
sions (what a time they used to have !), if the bookcases 
and the great table were removed. But where to put 
them ? He had often been puzzling his head of late, 
he would say, trying to contrive some addition to the 
house, but it was so built that he did not YQvy well see 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 149 

how it could be added to. After much beating about 
the bush, from time to time, at last the proposition for 
a separate building came. Charley, very naturall.y, 
could not see the necessity for this, considering we 
were but three; but, finding the old gentleman's heart 
set on the project, he ceased to raise objections. 

" It would be such a comfortable little nook to retire 
to." 

"Eetire from whom. Uncle Tom ?" 

" Often, you know, our friends bring their children." 

" Very true." 

" It would be a good place to read or write in, when 
the house was full." 

" Exactly." 

"Certainly. And then, sometimes, when a lot of 
you young fellows got together, and wanted to have a 
' high old time,' you could go out there, and I could go 
to bed and let you have it out. Don't you see ?" 

" Capital." 

So it was settled. 

" But, Charley, would not a single room, stuck out 
all alone in the yard, have rather a queer look ?" 

" Eather queer, I should say." 

"While we are about it, why not put two rooms 
under one roof?" 

" Of course." 

" Don't you think so ? Then we'll do it. Two rooms, 
— let me see." And the wily old captain seemed to re- 
flect. "As the rooms would be of only one story, the 
pitch should be high, — better artistic effect, you know." 

" Undoubtedly," acquiesced Charley. And the crafty 
engineer meditated as to how to run his next and last 
parallel. 

" But what kind of a room shall the second be ? The 
first will be our Library, and, in case of a pinch, an 
extra guest-chamber, of course. But what are we to 
do with the second room ? There's the rub." 

" That's a fact," granted Charley between puffs; and 
the twain were silent for a little while. 

"By Jove, I have it!" exclaimed my grandfather, 
slapping his thigh. 

13* 



150 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Charley looked up. 

" We'll make a ball-room of it." 

"A ball-room! Good Lord, Uncle Tom!" cried 
Charley, surprised, for a moment, out of his habitual 
calm. 

"Why not?" asked Mr. Whacker, appealing with 
his eyes from Charley to me, and from me to Charley. 
" Why not a ball-room? Eemember how many young 
people we frequently have here, especially Christmas 
time, — and you know they always dance." 

" I had forgotten that." 

" As it is, they must dance on a carpet, or else it must 
be taken up, and that is a great bother; whereas, with 
a nicely waxed floor ! And then," added my grand- 
father, casually, — running over the words as if of minor 
importance ('twas a regular masked batter}^), — " and 
then the fiddles would sound so much better in such 
a room." 

"Oho!" cried Charley. 

"What?" quickly put in Mr. Whacker, slightly 
coloring. 

" The boys and girls would enjoy it," replied Charley, 
demurely. 

"Enjoy it? I should think so!" exclaimed Mr. 
Whacker, relieved to feel that he had not uncovered 
his artillery. 

And so my grandfather set about gathering suitable 
lumber for his "Library," as he called it ; but it was 
nearly two years before the structure was complete ; 
so many trees did he find unsuitable, after they were 
felled, and so carefully did he season the planks, before 
they were deemed worthy of forming part of this 
sacred edifice. Nor, during all this time, did Mr. 
Whacker ever once allude to the "Ball-Eoom" as likely 
to prove a suitable place for his quartet performances. 
At last, in the month of November, 1858, just tw^o 
years before the arrival of the Don at Elmington, the 
"Library" was finished, and we three were walking 
over the glittering waxed floor of Mr. Whacker's so- 
called Bali-Room, admiring its proportions and the ex- 
quisite perfection of its joinery. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 151 

" Well, boys, we'll christen her at Christmas. We'll 
have one of the liveliest dancing-parties ever seen 
in the county. Suppose, Jack, you go over to the 
liouse and bring us a tiddle, and we shall see how she 
sounds." 

1 brought the fiddle. 

" Now, Charley, toss us off a reel." 

Charley dashed into a dancing tune, and played a 
few bars. 

" Maiiiiificent !" exclaimed Mr. Whacker, flushini^c 
with intense delight. " Did you ever hear such res- 
onance !" 

"Magnificent!" we echoed; and Charley resumed 
his playing. 

"Do you know?" began he, pausing and raising his 
head from the fiddle, — but on bedashed again. "Do 
you know, Uncle Tom ?" he resumed, biting his 
under-lip, as he gave a slight twist to a peg, — " Do you 
know, it occurs to me that this room — " the scamp 
winked at me with his off e^'e. " Listen !" And, placing 
the violin under his chin, he began to play a movement 
out of one of Mozart's quartets. " IIow does that 
sound?" he asked, looking up into my grandfather's 
face with an expression of innocence utterly brazen. 

This simple question, and the simplicity with which 
it was put, covered our unsuspecting ancestor with 
confusion, though he him.self could hardly have told 
why. Before he could recover himself sufficiently to 
reply, Charley went on, — 

"Do you know. Uncle Tom, that it occurs to me that 
this room is the very ])lace for our quartets? How 
strange that it should never have occui-red to us be- 
fore!" And turning to me, he bended upon me that 
stare of serene stolidity under which he was wont to 
mask his intense sense of the humorous. I had no 
such power of looking solemn and burying a smile deep 
down in my heart, as the pious ^neas used to do his 
grief, while he was fooling Sidonian Dido, poor thing; 
and 80, as Charley and I had had many a quiet joke 
ov^er my grandfather's transparent secret, I burst out 
laughing. 



152 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" Why, don't you agree with me ?" demanded Charley 
with austere composure. "What do you think, Uncle 
Tom ?" 

" Our quartets ? Well, now that you suggest it — 
H'm !" And he glanced around the room with a critical 
look. " We'll ask Mr. Waldteufel next Friday. What 
on earth is that idiot giggling about ?" 



SYMPHONY OF LIFE. MOVEMENT II. 

Scherzo. h. van Beethoven, "Eroica" 



Pagotti. 



Timpani 
in Es. B. 




ii jii JJ i ^ sJ-i^ J j_g ^ 



SYMPHONY OF LIFE. 

MOYEMEH"T II. 



CHAPTER XXin. 

Tt was just one week before Christmas, — that of 
1860, the last Christmas of the olden time, — that El- 
mington — that Virginia — forever and forever — was to 
gee — . But no matter; we did not know it then. The 
guests from Eichmond were to arrive that evening. 
Everything was in readiness. 

The hickory logs, which alone my grandfather — 
and his father before him, for that matter — would 
burn during the holidays, — lighting the first noble pile 
on Christmas Eve, — the hickory logs were banked up, 
high and dry, in the wood-house. The stall-fed ox nod- 
ded over his trough ; the broad-backed Southdowns, clus- 
tered together in a corner of their shed, basked in the 
sun and awaited a return of appetite ; a remnant of 
sturdy porkers, left over from the [N'ovember killing, 
that blinked at you from out their warm beds, and 
grunted when requested to rise, suggested sausage; 
while over on Charley's farm, and under Aunt Sucky's 
able management, aldermanic turkeys, and sleek, plump 
pullets, and ducks, quacking low from very fatness, and 
geese that had ceased to wrangle, — all thought them- 
selves, like man before Copernicus, the centre of the 
universe. Then, in the little creek, too, which ebbed 
and flowed hard by, there lay bushels and bushels of 
oysters freshly taken from The River in front. These, 
too, were ready; while, in the cellar, suspended from 
hooks, there dangled, thanks to the industry of Charley 

153 



154 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. ' 

and the Don, daily swelling bunches of partridges and 
rabbits, of woodcock and of wild fowl. 

And can you not detect the odor of apples issuing 
even from that locked door? There are great piles of 
them stowed away there ; and cider, I suspect, is not 
lacking. And above, the storeroom showed shelves 
weighed down, since the arrival of the last steamer, 
with such things as Elmington could not supply. 
Boxes and bags and bundles gave forth the mellow 
fragrance of raisins, the cheerful rattle of nuts, the 
pungent savor of spices, — the promise of all things dear 
to the heart of the Virginia housewife. On every 
whiff floated mince-pie, — mince-pie embrj^onic, uncom- 
pounded ; with every sniff there rose, like an exhala- 
tion before the imagination, visions of Plum-Pudding — 
of the Plum-Pudding of Old England, — twin-sister of 
Eoast Beef, — and, with Eoast Beef, inseparable at- 
tendant and indispensable bulwark of Constitutional 
Liberty. 

It was well. 

Nor in stuffed larder alone were discernible the signs 
of the approaching festival. Christmas was in the very 
air. Old Dick's mien grew hourly more imposing; his 
eye, beneath which now trembled no longer Zip alone, 
but Zip reinforced by double his own strength, hourly 
more severe. Aunt Phoebe, her head gorgeous in a 
new bandanna (a present from Mrs. Carter last Christ- 
mas, but which had lain folded in her "cbist" for the 
past 3'ear), — Aunt Phoebe, chief of the female cohort, 
and champion pastry-cook of the county, waddled from 
room to room, — serene, kindly, and puffing, — volumi- 
nous with her two hundred pounds, inspecting the 
work of her subordinates, and giving a finishing touch 
here and there. Polly, the cook, and her scuUion, alone 
of the household, had no leisure for putting on the 
Christmas look, busy as they were getting dinner for 
the coming guests ; cooks being, in point of fact, among 
the few people, white or black, that ever did a full day's 
work in Virginia in the olden time. But we have 
changed all that, — so let it pass. 

"Dey comin' !" eagerly cried an urchin of color, who, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 155 

with twenty companions of both sexes, had had for the 
past hour their eyes fixed on the lane-gate. 

The gate was swinging on its hinges. 

AVith one accord they all assumed the attitude of 
runners awaiting the signal to start. With feet planted 
firmly, — shall 1 say widely? — but no, they are men 
and brothers now, — with eyes bent upon the gate, but 
bodies leaning towards the house, they stood for a 
moment expectant. 

The noses of a pair of horses appeared between the 
gate-posts. 

" D'3'ar dey come ! D'yar dey come !" they shouted 
in chorus; and, with quasi-plantigrade flap of simul- 
taneous feet, they bounded to the rear. 

As when Zeus, angry because of the forgotten heca- 
tomb, sends forth, in black, jagged cloud, the glomer- 
ated hail, and lays low the labors of the oxen and the 
hopes of the husbandman. 

Or, just as a herd of buffaloes, sniffing the band of 
Iledmen from afar, scurry over the plain. 

As though a pack of village curs have inaugurated 
a conflict, at dead of night, in peaceful, moonlit lane. 
The combat deepens and stayeth not. But the Sum- 
mer Boarder, wild with the irony of advertisements, 
discharges in their midst the casual blunderbuss, — rusty, 
ineft'ectual. Instantly hushed is the voice of battle; 
but multitudinous is the rush of departing paws. 

Not otherwise scampered over the Elmington lawn, 
with nimbly flapping feet, the children of the blameless 
Ethiopians, as Homer calls them. 

The swiftest (for the race is not always to the slow) 
was first to reach the front steps. 

" Dey comin', Uncle Dick ! D'yar dey is in de fur eend 
o' de lane!" For that worthy, hearing their hurrying 
steps, had made his way to the porch, followed by Zip. 
Zip started back through the door on hearing the tidings. 

" Whar you gvvine, boy?" 

Zip stood as though frozen. 

"Ain't you never gwine to learn no sense? Don't 
you know I is de properest pusson to renounce de re- 
rival o' de company ?" 



156 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Awed by this courtly phrase, no less than by the 
shining bald head and portly figure that stood before 
them, the black cohort slowly withdrew, and, straggling 
back, resumed their position at the lawn-gate to await 
the arrival of the carriages. 

" I see Miss Fanny" (Mrs. Carter). ^' D'yar she sets, 
and Marse George" (Mr. C), " and two more ladies." 

" I see her, J see Marse George," chirped the sable 
chorus in deferential undertones. 

"Sarvant, Miss Fanny!" spoke up one older and 
bolder than the rest. " Sarvant, Miss Fanny ; sarvant, 
Marse George," echoed the dusky maniple. 

"How d'ye do, children, how d'ye do!" responded 
she, affably nodding to a familiar face here and there 
in the groups that lined the road on either sid'e. 

" Yonder Marse Jack !" shouted a little fellow, get- 
ting the start of the rest, who were grinning upon Mrs. 
Carter as though she were their guest. "Yonder 
Marse Jack a-drivin' de hind carriage!" 

Coming up between the rows, I nodded from side to 
side. The flash of ivories and of smiling eyes seemed 
to illumine the twilight. Perhaps the light was in my 
heart — it used to be so, — but let that pass, too. 

Greetings over, our party dispersed to dress for din- 
ner. The new arrivals were seven or eight in number : 
Mr. and Mrs. Carter and their daughter Alice, — Alice 
with the merry-glancing hazel eyes ; then Mary Eolfe, 
demure, reserved, full of subdued enthusiasm, the an- 
tithesis of Alice, but " adoring" her — girls will talk so — 
and adored by her in turn ; then the teller of this tale, 
making five. In addition there were two or three 
young ladies, — all very charming, — but as they were 
not destined to play any marked part in our drama, 
why describe, or even name them? 

Only two of our guests had ever before spent Christ- 
mas at Elmington, — Mr. and Mrs. Carter. Mrs. Carter 
was a kind of far-off Virginia cousin of ours, and it was 
an understood thing between her and my grandfather 
that she should come down to Elmington every Christ- 
mas and matronize his household ; else, a houseful of 
girls, whom he exceedingly enjoyed having around him. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 157 

would have been less attainable. And a merrier soul, 
and one who knew better how to make young people 
enjoy themselves, could hardly have been found. Mr. 
Carter, an excellent, silent, sober man of business, could 
rarely spend more than a week with us; but his jovial 
spouse never gave us less than a month of her charm- 
ing chaperoning ; and, on one occasion, I remember, the 
unceasing entreaties of the young people constrained 
her to prolong her visit and theirs, from week to week, 
till two full months had elapsed. The net result, di- 
rect and indirect, of that particular campaign was four 
marriages, if I recollect aright, — so that Elmington 
had an established reputation, among the girls, as a 
lucky place ; of which my grandfather was not a little 
proud. 

"Young ladies," said he, walking up to Alice and 
Mary, and putting his arms around their waists, as 
they stood at a window, after dinner, admiring the 
moonbeams dancing on the waves, — "young ladies, do 
you know that Elmington is a very dangerous place ?" 

" How, dangerous ?" asked Mary. 

" Shipwrecks ?" suggested Alice, nodding towards The 
Eiver with a smile. 

"Yes," replied he, stooping down and kissing them 
both with impartial cordiality, — "shipwrecks of hearts." 

" I have lost mine already," said Alice, laying her 
head on his shoulder and shutting her eyes, with a 
languishing smile on her upturned face. 

" Little hypocrite !" said he, patting her cheek. 

" Only a pat for such a speech ?" 

" Well, there ! So, Alice, your grandmother con- 
sented to let us have you this Christmas ? It was but 
right, now that you are grown. And then she lives in 
such an out-of-the-way neighborhood." 

"Yes, it was very kind in grandmamma to let me 
come here instead of spending my Christmas with her. 
She grows deafer every year, and I think — perhaps — I 
was going to make such a wicked speech I" And Alice 
dropped her eyes. 

" What dreadful thing were you going to say ?" 

"I was thinking that, perhaps, bawling into one's 
14 



158 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

grandmother's ear was not so pleasant a pastime, to a 
girl, as having — -just for a change you know — a j-oung 
fellow whispering in hers," 

" Charley," asked Mr. Whacker, suddenly, that night, 
as we sat before the library fire, after the newly-arrived 
guests had retired, " do you know, I can't understand 
why, in speaking of the ladies you met in Richmond, 
you never so much as mentioned the name of Alice 
Carter?" 

I tried to catch Charley's eye, but he durst not look 
me in the face. Seated as I was, therefore, rather be- 
hind my innocent relative, I clapped my hand upon 
my mouth, doubled myself up in my chair, and went 
through the most violent, though silent contortions of 
pantomimic laughter. Charley held his eye firmly 
fixed on my grandfather's face, and affected, though 
with reddening face, not to observe my by-play. 

"D-D-D-Didn't I?" 

Any kind of mental perturbation always brought on 
an attack of stammering with Charley. 

" Why, no ; and yet I have never seen a more charm- 
ing girl. She is positively fascinating. Don't you ad- 
mit it, you cold-hearted young wretch ?" 

Here, a broad smile from the Don encouraging me to 
further exertions, ray chair tilted, and 1 recovered my- 
self with a bang. 

" What is the matter with you ?" asked my grand- 
father, suddenly turning. 

Charley gave me a quick, imploring glance, and I 
had pity on him. "Give it to him, grandfather; he 
deserves it, every word, — the woman-hater!" 

"To be sure he does. Why, were I at his time of 
life— hey, Mr. Smith ?" 

That night, after we had gone to bed, I was just 
dozing oif into dreamland. Charley gave me a sudden 
dig in the ribs. 

"Wasn't I good?" said I, drowsily. But the old 
boy, turning his back upon me and settling his head 
upon his pillow, took in a long breath of air ; and, 
breathing it out with a kind of snort, was silent. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 159 



CHAPTEE XXIV. 

" How well the Parson is looking, Mary," said Alice, 
as she stood before the glass that night, unpinning her 
collar. 

Mary, tired and sleepy as she was, dropped into a 
chair and shook with half-unwilling laughter. 

" What is the Little Thing laughing at?" 

" Alice, you are the hardest case I ever knew.^^ Why 
do you persist in turning the man into ridicule?" 

"Who, the Pass'n?" for thus she pronounced the 
word, — and her merry eyes twinkled. 

I doubt whether the reader can guess who the 
"Pass'n" is. I must explain, therefore, that when I 
mentioned to the girls, in Eichmond, that 1 had found 
the Don reading the New Testament, Alice had imme- 
diately cried out that now she had it. " He is a Meth- 
odist parson in disguise." And upon this theme she 
had ever since been playing inimitably grotesque vari- 
ations. Coming down on the boat, notably, she had 
surpassed herself; and I hear our party disgraced 
themselves by their hilarity. "Ladies and gentle- 
men," she had cried out, when first we had come in 
view of Elmington, — " ladies and gentlemen," said she, 
leaning out of the carriage window, and declaiming 
solemnly to the passengers in the rear vehicle, "in 
yonder mansion sits meditating, at this moment, Pass'n 
Smith, the disguised Methodist divine. He is the 
Whitefield of our day. For generations, no exhorter 
of such power— especially with sentimental young girls 
and lonesome widows — Will some one be so good as 
to administer restoratives to the Fat Lady? She seems 
on the verge of— Where was I?" And so she went on, 
her young heart ceaselessly bubbling over with fresh- 
ness and high spirits. 

" Eidicule the Pass'n !" said Alice, dropping into her 
friend's lap. " Far from me the profane idea." And she 
smoothed back from Mary's brow her loosened hair. 



160 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" In the first place, Alice, it is perfectly absurd for 
you to say he is a parson ; and even if he were," she 
continued, after a sharp struggle with her rising 
laughter. — " even if he were studying with a view to 
the ministry, 1 don't see that he should be made fun 
of on that account. To my mind, — and you ought to 
think so too, Alice, — to my mind there is no nobler 
spectacle than that of a 3'oung man deliberately turn- 
ing his back upon all the allurements that lead* astray 
80 many of his comrades, and devoting himself, in the 
very vigor of his manhood and in all the glory of his 
youthful strength, to the service of his God. But as 
for the Don, — Mr. Smith I mean, — I think he is about 
as far from being a parson as he well could be. Don't 
you remember how, when I first met him, I said I was 
afraid of him? Well, that feeling grows on me. He 
may have his passions well under control, but, you may 
depend upon it, they would be terrible if ever the}^ got 
the mastery over him. Did you ever notice his teeth, 
how strong and even they are, and as white as ivory? 
but do you know that, at times, when he smiles in that 
peculiar way of his, they seem to me to glitter through 
his moustache like — like — " 

"Is the Little Thing afraid the Pass'n will bite her? 
'Twould be a wicked shepherd to bite a little lamb. 
And if he ever does such a thing," she continued, "you 
go straight and tell your mamma." And she dropped 
her head on Alice's shoulder and stuck out her mouth 
like a three-year-old child. 

" Incorrigible scamp !" cried Mary, between laughter- 
kisses that, like bubbles, exploded as they touched 
those pouting lips. "But, Ahce, will you never be 
serious ?" 

" Serious?" replied Alice, rising. " I was never more 
serious in my life. It wouldn't be right." 

" What wouldn't be right?" 

" For you to let the Pass'n bite you, without telling 
your mother, — and with those glittering teeth too! 
Think of it! Glittering teeth and starry eyes! Im- 
agine ! Most improper, upon my word !" — and she gave 
a toss of her shapely little head. " Mary," said Alice, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 161 

dropping^ again, suddenly, into her laughing friend's 
lap, — " Mary, look me in the eyes !" 

From her fine honest face, as well as from her voice, 
— both changeful as the dolphin's hues, — had vanished 
in an instant all trace of raillery. Mary looked up 
with a smile half serious, half inquiring. 

" Well ?" 

"Straight in the eyes!" repeated Alice, lifting her 
friend's chin on the tip of her Ibrefinger. 

"I am looking." 

" Mary," began Alice, leaning forward, and with that 
same forefinger daintil}^ depressing the tip of Mary's 
nose, "are — you — quite — sure — that — you — are — 
not—" 

"Not what?" 

" Falling in love with Mr. Smith ?" 

" Alice, what can have put that idea into your head?" 

"That sounds more like a question than an answer 
to a question. Look rae in the eyes and say no, — if 
you can." 

"Well, no, then!" 

"No fluttering here, when he approaches? no quick 
breathing when he speaks to you ? no pit-a-pat ?" 

" No pit-a-pat, — no anything ! Will that do ?" 

" Well, I suppose it will have to do, — at least for the 
present." 

" How ' for the present' ?" 

" Never mind," said Alice, rising ; " and now for 
another question. Is the Don, so far as you can see, 
falling in love with you f " 

" With me V cried Mary, with genuine surprise. 
"What, pray, will you ask next? Whether, for ex- 
ample, I do not perceive that Mr. Frobisher is enam- 
oured of me ? No, you will not ask that. Bear Charles^ 
— well, he is a nice fellow, I must admit, — and would 
let you do all the talking." And she gave Alice a 
squeeze, as girls will do, when talking sweethearts 
among themselves. 

"Mr. Frobisher! Why are you continually harping 
on him ? He has never said a dozen words to me. But 
mark my words, that Enigma is interested in you. Ho 
I 14* 



162 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Rhowed It to-day at dinner. You know, my dear, when 
the humor strikes you, you talk beautifully — " 

"I don't compare with you, Alice." 

"Never mind about me. This meeting has not been 
called with a view to organizing a Mutual-Admiration 
Societ3^ You are the subject of this little pow-wow. 
Now, to-day, at dinner — well, I don't like to sit here 
and flatter you to 3'our face, but I saw very plainly 
that the Eeverend Mr. — I beg your pardon, the Don, 
was enraptured with your unconscious eloquence." 

^'Eloquence, Alice?" And Mary flushed with ill-con- 
cealed delight. 

" Yes, Little Dumpling, eloquence." 

"Eeally?" 

"That's the charm of the thing, goosey; your words 
flow from you so easily, that you are unconscious how 
lovely 30ur language often is. Then, of course, as 
none of us know the sound of our own voices, you are 
hardly aware how low and musical your voice is." 

"Alice," said Mary, gravelj", "you are making fun 
of me. You have never said anything like this to me 
before. It is not kind, — it really isn't !" And her lips 
quivered. 

" You little goose ! Not to know me any better than 
that! Well, to-day you became so much interested 
in some subject you were discussing with Mr. John 
Whacker that you did not observe, for some time, that 
every one at the table was listening to you ; and then, 
when you discovered that you ' had the floor,' you 
blushed furiously and stopped talking." 

"Yes, I remember; it made me feel so foolish!" 

" Well, you know, my love, I am very proud of you ; 
and so I was looking around to see what others thought 
of you. I give you my word, I neai'lj' exploded when 
I caught sight of the Don. There he sat, with an 
oyster on the end of his fork poised midway between 
his plate and his mouth, with his eyes riveted on you. 
Put this down in your book, Mary, — this, — as a maxim 
on love: 'Whenever a man forgets the way to his 
mouth his heart's in danger.' " 

"I will," said Mary, shaking with laughter. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 163 

" Yes," continued Alice, standing before the glass and 
taking down her hair, "you have a streak of genius, 
that's the truth ; but it is not the whole truth." 

" Give me the rest of it." 

Alice, instead of replying, made a ftice at herself in 
the glass; then, folding her arms across her bosom and 
swaying from side to side two or three times, sailed off 
in a waltz around the room. 

" The trouble with you, my dear, is simply this," — 
and she stood before her friend with arms akimbo, — 
"you are devoid of common sense." And off she ca- 
pered again, this time in the rhythm of the polka. 
"Oh, I'm so happy !" cried she, clasping her hands and 
rolling up her eyes. 

"Because I have no common sense?" 

"Because I have so much! I've lots! Oceans T 
And she spread out her arms. Catching sight of her 
own waving arms in the mirror, she, like the kaleido- 
scope, changed in an instant. Standing on her left 
foot, she described, with the extended toe of her right, 
an elaborate semicircle, and ended with a profound 
courtesy, her young face corrugated, meanwhile, with 
that professional grin of the equestrienne, which, among 
the horsical, passes for a smile. Turning then to Mary, 
she repeated the movement. " Behold," cried she, 
drawing herself up to her full height, — " behold the 
Empress of the Arena ! The Champion Bare-back 
Eider of the World !" 

" I don't know so much about the champion part of 
it, but of the bare back there can be little doubt." 

" Well said, Little Dumpling ! I must admit that my 
costume is rather meagre." 

" Alice, you ought to be able to explain it if anybody 
can, — how do people come to be ' privileged characters,' 
as they are called ? You do whatever you please, and 
cut all sorts of crazy antics, and no one ever thinks 
you foolish, or even undignified ; and then, you say 
whatever you think, yet no one can get angry with 
you. You tell me, to my face, that I am destitute of 
common sense — " 

" Totally, that's a flxct." 



164 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" And 3^et I am not the least bit vexed ?" 

" The simplest thing imaginable. Listen, and I will 
explain. As to the crazy antics, as you are pleased to 
term my joyous, lamb-like friskings, of course you 
cannot expect me to have the face to stand up here 
and say that they do not oifend, because of the be- 
witching, inborn grace which characterizes my every 
movement?" 

":N'aturally." 

" Of course. And you will naturally pardon my not 
alluding to what I can't help." 

"Poor thing!" 

" Of course. I was born so ; and that's the end of 
that. Now, as to your not being hurt by my telling 
you that plain truth about yourself — " 

" M}^ destitution as regards — " 

" Common sense — yes, — I think you yourself must 
understand it." 

" Because you told me, first, that I had a streak of 
geni us, — flatterer ?' ' 

" Precisely ; I credit you with bullion, and you are 
not worried that I should deny you the small change 
of every-day life. You see I am as deep as Machia- 
velli, — in other words, as full of common sense as an 
egg is of meat. Lucy will not be home," said she, ab- 
ruptly veering oif from the line of their talk, as she 
seated herself on the edge of the bed, " till the middle 
of January." 

" No ; I am so sorry. What made you think of her ?" 

" Because I wish she were here right now." 

MVhy, pray?" 

" Because, from what I saw in Eichmond, the Don 
might devote himself to her instead of you." 

" Thank you for wishing to rob me of an admirer, 
as you pretend to deem him!" 

"No, I am glad she is not here. She is so pure and 
earnest, so single-minded and devoted, that I should 
tremble to see her exposed to such a danger." 

" And I am so — " 

"You are what you are, my dear, and I would not 
have you other. But there is but one Lucy in the 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 165 

world. You know it and I know it, and neither of us 
would think of comj^aring ourselves with her." 

" Yes, Luc}^ is a real madonna." 

" And, somehow, I am not, — you may speak for your- 
self. Yes, I am glad she is not here. I'll tell you, 
Mary : I wish he would fall in love with me, — I've got 
so much hard sense that I should never think of recip- 
rocating. However," added she, resting her head in 
her hand, while her elbow and fair, plump arm sank in 
the pillow, '• I am not so sure. I, too, am human. Per- 
haps it would be too much for me. He is tall," she 
continued, looking dreamily into space, — " he is distin- 
guished-looking ! — so brave ! — so mysterious ! — perhaps 
I haven't as much sense as I thought," — and she seemed 
to nod, — "and his teeth are so like stars ! and his rows 
of eyes are so even and white! glitter so! — Am I 
asleep? Mary, my love," cried she, bouncing off the 
bed, " are 3'ou going to talk all night? Talk on, — but 
I'll tell you what I am going to do. I shall straightway 
put on my little N. G., — the toggery, to wit, of repose ; 
and then I shall fall on my little knees and say my little 
prayers ; which done, I shall curl up my little self in my 
little bed, and know no more till the rising-bell. One 
word with you, however. Mary, do you know what 
all I have been saying to you means ?" 

" I don't know what anj^ of it means, — not one word ; 
nor do you, I should imagine." 

"Then listen! All that I have said and done and 
danced to-night means this, and this only. The Pass'n 
is going to fall in love with you. That's the Pass'n's 
affair, and shows his good taste. Now, who on earth is 
the Pass'n? Do you see? Well, don't you go and fall 
in love with him, now mind ! don't, — that's a good, wnse 
girl. Good-night !" 



166 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTER XXY. 

I WILL not suppose that any of my readers are 
superficial persons ; and only superficial persons need 
be told that Alice Carter was a young woman of un- 
usually strong judgment and sound sense. And, fur- 
ther: all persons like her are similarly characterized. 
Doubtless, a sense of humor is not necessary to the 
chemist or the naturalist or the mathematician, — to one 
pursuing a special branch of knowledge; but in that 
science of sciences, the knowledge of men and things, 
no eminence is possible without it. 'Tis the blind who 
fall into pits; and the man who cannot see the absurd 
in others can in nowise himself escape being ridiculous. 
1 know of but one bird with long ears; and he loolvs 
exceeding wise ; but let him but venture forth from 
the twilight of his hiding-place into the full glare of 
day, and the first school-boy that passes whistling by, 
shall knock him on the head. And so, among men, the 
most solemn owl is ever the most solemn ass. 

Yes, our little Alice of the merry-glancing hazel eyes 
was a wise virgin and of exceeding tact ; but when she 
warned her friend against falling in love with the Don, 
she blundered, — blundered most grieviously when she 
planted in Mary's mind the idea tbat he was not indif- 
ferent to her. She loved Mary dearl}^, with a love 
securely based on similarity of princij)les and dissimi- 
larity of temperament, and cemented by the closest 
association from their very infancy. She admired her, 
too, — admired her gifts, the unusual range of her 
womanly culture, her enthusiasm for all that was high 
and noble, the glowing beauty of her language when 
she discoursed of anything that kindled her blood. At 
such times she would sit gazing upon Marj^'s face, 
illumined as it was with a beautiful enthusiasm, and 
feel that she herself was almost despicable. Yet a re- 
action always came. Mary was not what is called prac- 
tical. Her head was among the stars, as it were, while 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 107 

her feet were stumbling along the earth ; and Alice 
revenged herself upon her goddess, for her enforced 
worship, b}^ playing upon her foibles and blunders with 
an incessant spray of delicate and sparkling raillery. 
Even the school-girl love-affairs that they had had when 
about twelve or thirteen years of age had been char- 
acteristic of the two friends. Mary's j^outh rejoiced in 
the aristocratic name of Arthur, while Alice's lad was 
known as plain Harry. Arthur was curly-haired and 
pale of face, and generally had, as he sauntered to 
school, some novel or other'concealcd about his person. 
Harry was a brisk, bullet-headed chap, champion 
knucks' player of the school ; while, at mumble-peg, his 
stubby, upturned nose allowed him to rise superior 
even to defeat. 

"I can't see, Alice, how you can fancy a boy with a 
pug nose," said Mary, one day. 

" Hany's nose turns up, that's true ; but so did he, 
yesterday, and with his umbrella, which kept you and 
me dry, while he ran home in the rain. Somebody else 
was afraid of getting his curls wet. I'll tell you what 
it is, Mary, I like a boy that carries my books for me 
and gives me peaches and French candy and oranges 
and things; but you want one with a novelly name 
and a ' chiselled nose,' as you call it, — a pretty boy, in 
fact." All which Mary denied with some heat, and they 
had a tiff and "didn't speak" for five long and weary 
minutes. Alice phrased the same idea differently some 
years later. " Mary. I'll tell you the difference between 
you and myself. Your idea of a husband is a man 
whom you can adore ; mine must adore mey 

Alice blundered, — blundered through over-zeal for 
her friend's welfare. She knew Mary's nature in its 
QYQYj recess ; she erred through not knowing human 
nature as well. She was only eighteen; hence her 
knowledge of mankind was special rather than general. 
She knew the exaltation of Mary's imagination, and 
felt the danger of her fervid fancy's laying hold of such 
a man as the Don, and converting him into a demi-god 
by the alchemy of her fresh, girlish heart. But gener- 
alization is not a trait of the feminine mind. A\^hen 



168 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

we bear that some one admires us, we — all of us — in- 
stinctively give that person credit for good taste and 
discernment, — that, she of the hazel eyes overlooked. 
jN^ow, good taste and discernment are admirable traits ; 
how, then, other things being favorable, can we help 
admiring our admirers? 

"Grood-night!" answered Mary; and the two fair 
heads lay side by side, deep-sunk in vast, beruffled 
pillows. Alice, fatigued by the day's journey, fell 
asleep almost immediately. Her companion, though 
her eyes were closed, lay thinking. Ah, little Alice, 
you have sadly blundered ! Mary is thinking of what 
you have said to her — ransacking her brain for confirma- 
tion of 3^our suggestion. " Yes, I did remark his look- 
ing at me several times at dinner; but what of that? 
People can look at other people without being in love 
with them. And — yes, I did think his eyes wore a very 
intense look ; but then they always glow like coals. 
How beautiful they are !" [Oh, Alice ! Alice!!] " terribly 
beautiful ! Oh, if he but hated you !" And she shivered. 

Lying, as she was, locked in Alice's arms, the ner- 
vous, rippling movement of her bod}^ slightly disturbed 
the latter's slumbers ; but she merely drew a long breath 
and exhaled it again with force, — taking a fresh hold, 
as it were, on sleep. 

"Pshaw! it's all nonsense! Alice forgets what we 
all agreed to in Eichmond. Lucy Poythress was ob- 
viously his favorite. Of course she was. Everybody 
remarked it. I never saw anything like the sudden- 
ness of the fancy he took for her. Well, Lucy will 
reach the neighborhood in a few weeks, and then we 
shall see. I wonder — no, I cannot think that of him. 
' Out of sight, out of mind,' — no, that's impossible ; 
whatever he may be, he is not fickle. Let me think. 
I do recall that he seemed to bow a shade lower to me 
than to the others when we left the parlor ; but what 
of that ? Bows must differ like everj'thing else ; one 
must be lower than the rest. And he is so strong, I 
suppose he hardly knew that he almost hurt my hand." 
" Stuff!" cried she aloud, with emphasis ; whirling out 
of Ahce's arms and changing her position. 



THE STORV OF DON MIFF. 169 

Man}' men, in man}- lands, Poor Thing, have tried 
that method of changing the current of their thoughts, 
and have failed. The chronometer goes ticking on, Uiy 
it how you will; and so the human heart; but that, 
alas, unlike the tireless watch, throbs fiercest when 'tis 
broken. 

Alice gave the half-conscious moan of disturbed 
sleep ; and Mar}^ resumed her meditations, going, again 
and again, over the same ground. At last youth and 
fatigue asserted tlieir claims, and she fell asleep and 
slept for hours ; then suddenly sprang up with a sharp 
cry. 

" AYhat's the matter?" asked Alice, in terror. 

" Oh, I had such a fearful dream !" 

"You did?" said Alice, dropping back upon her pil- 
low. " You frightened me so-o-o." And she was asleep 
again. 

Mary had dreamt that she was walking alone on a 
road through a dark forest, when suddenly she heard, 
behind her, the clatter of a horse's hoofs. Looking 
around in terror, she beheld a Knight in full armor, 
with visor down, mounted on a powerful black charger, 
and riding furiously. The Knight seemed to be mak- 
ing full at her, and she stood transfixed with fright, and 
rooted to the ground. As ho came up to her, he did 
not slacken his speed, but bending to the right, and en- 
circling her waist with his mighty arm, lifted her from 
the ground, and, without an eff'ort, placed her before 
him on the charger's neck. On, on, they rushed for 
miles and miles ; but the horseman spake never a word, 
nor, for very terror, could she utter a cry. At last they 
emerged into a bright, moonlit plain, and there, stand- 
ing before them, was the figure of a young girl. She 
turned her head at the sound of the charger's hoofs, 
and the moon, shining full on her face, revealed the fea- 
tures of Lucy. "Aha! it is she!" cried the Knight, 
breaking silence for the first time. 'Twas the voice of 
the Don ! And tossing his trembling captive disdain- 
fully to the ground, he stooped once more, and, seizing 
Lucy, sped on as before. Oh, Alice ! Alice ! ! Alice ! ! ! 

H 15 



170 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTER XX YL 

Next morning, as the two girls were tripping down- 
stairs, Mar}^ said to herself, " Now I shall observe the 
Don narrowly, and see whether there is anything in 
"what Alice sstys. Perhaps there may be some little 
foundation for her opinion." Entering the breakfast- 
room in this frame of mind, it is not to be wondered at 
that, as she saluted one after another of the compan}', 
her eyes suddenly gave forth kindlier beams as they 
met those of the Don. Yery likely the Don did not 
make any such comparison. He may not have re- 
marked that the smile she gave him was sweeter or 
sweetest ; but he felt that it was sweet. 

There were only two vacant seats at the table when 
the two girls entered. One, at my grandfather's right, 
he had expressly reserved for Alice, who had entirely 
captivated him the evening before by her sparkling 
gayety. The other was next the Don's, and this Mary 
took. That sweet smile merited response of some 
sort, and his attentions to his fair neighbor were as- 
siduous and delicate. He was always courteous, but, 
certainly, rather constrained ; now, his manner seemed 
to her singularly gentle. What was thawing him out? 
Perhaps — well, at any rate — 

"Thank you," cooed she, in that soft, high-bred 
tongue of Eichmond, — "thank you," — in requital for 
hot waffle, weaving wreathed smile, entangler of the 
hearts of men. Could he, the friendless one and soli- 
tary, could he be unmoved? And so, smile answered 
smile, and interest brought interest, making it compound ; 
and every school-boy knows how fast that counts up. 

Yes, it was too much ; five or six pages of Able- Anal- 
ysis, showing just what these two young people felt, 
and why they felt it; and so, I passed a pen across the 
whole. It makes the chapter shorter ; but even that 
has its possible advantages. The fact is, I am not quite 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 171 

sure that I know what they did think and feel ; for 
was not the Don an Enigma? and was not Mary a 
woman ? 

Alter all, what is the use of all this microscopic anat- 
omy in tracking the progress of heart-affairs ? It seems 
to me that falling in love is as elementary a process as 
sitting down on an ice-pond. The rub is how not to do 
it. If the novelists would but tell us that! Fortu- 
nately for me, I am not called on to do this, as I am not 
a novelist, but a bushwhackerish philosopher instead. 
And then — have I defrauded you, fair reader? — this is 
not a love-story ! When I sat down to write it, I re- 
solved to exclude, most rigidly, from its pages, all allu- 
sion to the tender passion ; but, somehow, though 
against my will, my personages could not be kept free 
from its toils. My error was in bringing them together 
to spend Christmas in a Virginia country-house. ' The 
thing cannot be remedied, now, without an entire 
change of plot; so I shall have to let it go as it is. 
But the reader must credit the whole of this Episode 
of Love, which has forced itself into a theme of a dif- 
ferent nature, to Alice Carter. Without her assistance 
I could not have written one word of it. She and 
Charley, to be entirely honest, are the real authors of 
this book. They have furnished most of the facts ; I 
am to pocket all the glory. 

To show the part Alice has had in the matter, I will 
mention, by way of example, a conversation we had 
years after the occurrences herein described, — less, in 
fact, than eighteen months ago. We were talking of 
the good old times, — Consule Flanco, — and happened to 
speak of this particular Christmas at Elmington, and 
especially of the week that preceded Christmas Eve. 

" Did you know as early as that, that a love-affair 
was brewing between Mary and the Don ?" 

" Of course ; at any rate, I feared it. You know how 
harum-scarum I was in those days ?" 

" I do," I replied, '' if harum-scarum means irresisti- 
ble." 

" You resisted me, at any rate; but, as I was going 
to remark, I had the regulation number of eyes about 



172 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

my person, and couldn't well help seeing what lay 
straight before me." 

"/saw nothing!" 

"Ah, but 3'ou are a man ! and remember that there 
are none so blind as those who can't see!" 

" Then you think the affair was well under weigh 
before the end of the first week ?" 

"With the Don, yes; and Mary was far more inter- 
ested than she would allow herself to believe." 

" Do 3'ou suppose that she was aware of the critical 
state of the Don's affections?" 

" Of course she was ; don't you know that a woman 
always perceives that a man is falling in love with her 
long before he finds it out himself?" 

"Not to add," I rejoined, "that she often perceives it 
when the man never does find it out himself. B}' the 
way, wh}^ do women always express surprise at a pro- 
posal, as I am told they invariably do?" 

"Oh, that is to gain time; but rest assured, the sur- 
prise is about as real as that felt by a spider when a 
fly, after buzzing about her web for a time, and lightly 
grazing first one thread and then another, at last puts 
himself in a position where he mav be made available." 

"Poor fly!" 

Upon the authority, then, of Alice, who holds the 
positionof Editor-in-chief of the Love-department of this 
work, I may assure the reader that by the time that 
one week had passed over the heads of our party at 
Elmington this was the state of things: 

Mary was sure that the Don loved her, and believed 
that she was fancy-free. The Don was aware, no 
doubt, of the state of his own aftections, and was, we 
will suppose, — for there is no way of knowing, — in per- 
plexing doubt as to the condition of Mary's. Alice 
knew more than either of them; while upon me, the 
teller of this tale, their various nods and becks and 
wreathed smiles had been entirely lost. 

I knew no more of what was ffoino: forward than 
Zip did of the amours of Uncle Toby and the Widow 
Wad man. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. I73 



CHAPTER XXVIT. 

Christmas Eve bad come, and, as usual, the holidays 
had been officially ushered in by a noble fire of hickory 
logs. A deep mass of ruddy coals was glowing upon 
the vast hearth of the Hall. Upon these had been cast 
a hamper of chosen 03^sters. The guests (it was the 
way at Elmington) were expected to rake them out, 
every man for himself and sweetheart, which gave a 
delightful informality to the proceedings. As soon as 
the roasting was well under weigh, two enormous, an- 
cestral bowls, one of eggnog, the other of apple-toddy, 
were brought in. Later, there was to be dancing. A 
dozen or so of our neighbors and friends were in the 
habit of dropping in on us, on these occasions, to help 
us make merry. 

" And now, grandfather," said I, " it is time to bring 
out the old Guarnerius." 

"The old what?" asked the Don, quickly. 

"His old Guarnerius violin; Guarnerius was a cele- 
brated maker of violins," I explained. 

What was the matter with Charley? Why did he 
purse up his mouth and give that inaudible whistle? 

'' Ah, — and Mr. Whacker has one of these old instru- 
ments?" 

"Yes; and he is as tender with it as a mother with 
her first-born. He allows it to be brought out only 
during the Christmas holidays; though he used to let 
Monsieur Yillemain play on it. The genuine ones are 
very rare and dear," I added. 

Another silent whe-e-ew from Charley. 

"Oh, I should suppose so," replied the Don. 

" What did you say your Guarnerius cost you, grand- 
fiither ?" 

That was a question I asked every Christmas Eve, 
when the violin was brought out; and always with the 
same result. 

15* 



174 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" That,'' replied the old gentleman, smiling and ad- 
dressing the Don, " is a piece of information I have 
never given to my friends. You see, when I was a 
young man — " 

We all knew what was coming, — the story that my 
grandfather always told to strangers when his Gruarne- 
rius was brought out for inspection. It was rather a 
long story, — how he took lessons from a very promising 
young artist, who took to gambling and drinking, and 
had, therefore, to sell his beloved violin to his pupil, — 
and how the young man grieved at giving it up, etc., 
etc., etc. 

" So saying," concluded Mr. Whacker, " he wrung 
my hand and hurried out of the room." 

" Ouch !" cried Charley, letting fall upon the hearth, 
at the same time, a large oyster and the knife with 
which he was opening it. 

If there runs upon the people's highway a hopelessly 
slow coach, it is your writer of English grammars. 
When will they deem this interjection respectable 
enough to introduce into their works ? If never, how 
is the boy of the future to parse my works ? Surely, 
it is worth any half-dozen of their genteel alases, or 
their erudite alackadaj^s! Look at it! Ouch! How 
much body ! What an expressive countenance ! What 
character in its features ! Hebrew verbs have genders ; 
and don't you see that ouch is masculine ? What lady 
would use it ? Nay, it is more than masculine, — it is 
manly! 

See those two boys, — the one with a strong pin fixed 
in the toe of his shoe, — the other absorbed in his les- 
son, and sitting in an unguarded attitude. Up goes the 
foot ! 

''- Ouch !" 

The word is more than manly, — it is stoical. Stoical, 
did I say ? 'Tis heroic ! 

For does not the lad say in that one breath, with 
Byron's dying gladiator, that he consents to start, but 
conquers agony? He means, as clearly as though he 
had used the whole dictionary, " I am no girl. I 
didn't scream. It didn't hurt, neither. I just wanted 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 175 

to have you understand that I knew you were fooling 
with the seat of my trousers." 

AH this those four letters mean ; and yet this is their 
first appearance in any serious literary work ! 

To this masterly interjection did Mr. Charles Fro- 
bisher give vent; and he meant, of course, "I have 
cut my finger with this confounded knife, opening this 
confounded oyster; but don't disturb j^ourselves, ladies 
and gentlemen, 'tis a small affair." Accordingly he 
rose, left the room, and soon returned with his finger 
bandaged. 

"Oh, I am so sorry!" said Alice. 

"Badly cut?" inquired my grandfather. 

" It is nothing," said Charley. 

'• But how annoying," added the old gentleman. 
"Your left hand, too ! So that you will not be able to 
play for the dancers this evening." 

Charley looked at the bandaged finger with a 
thoughtful air, and shook his head. 

Charley, with all his supposed aversion to the fair 
sex, was readj^, at any time, to play all night to the 
dancing of a party of girls, and the young people were 
much chagrined at the accident to his finger. True, 
Herr Waldteufel had offered his services at the piano ; 
but they wanted a fiddler on Christmas Eve; and the 
question was raised whether one could not be found 
among the negroes. But it turned out that a " revival" 
had recently swept over the county, and both my 
grandfather's fiddlers had " got religion." One of them 
had, in fact, already begun to preach ; and, in his first 
sermon, had taken high conservative ground as to the 
I'uture state of such as drew the bow and repented not. 
So, as the tyro to whom the now parson had sold his 
instrument was not yet up to the mark, it seemed 
certain that we would have to trip it to the less in- 
spiring strains of the piano. 

"I vill blay for de 3'oong beebles till daylight doaf 
abbear," quoth the Herr, who was very near the mam- 
moth bowl of apple-toddy. 

But just as this thorough-going proposal fell from the 
Professor's well-moistened lips, there was heard the 



176 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

clattering of hoofs on the frozen ground. There was a 
stir among the darkies, around and in the door-way, 
and on the steps of the Hall; for, as was the custom in 
the olden days, whenever there was any conviviality 
going forward in the " Great-House," the negroes had 
crowded about all the doors and windows whence a 
glimpse of the festivities was to be had ; for the}^ knew 
very well there was " mo' toddy in dat d'yar big bowl 
dan de white folks gwine 'stroy, let alone de eggnog." 

I hasten to remark that this mysterious cavalier, so 
darkly galloping through night and frost, was none 
other than Mr. William Jones, — Billy for short, — the 
young fellow of whom we have heard before, and who 
was, at this time, a student at the University. A dozen 
sable youngsters seized his reins, ambitious of the honor 
of riding his horse to the stable ; and as he dismounted 
and approached the densely-packed steps, he was as- 
sailed by a chorus of joyous, frieiKlly voices. 

"Dat 3'ou, Marse Billy? Lord 'a' mussy, how de 
chile done growed, to-be-sho ! Jess like he pa, too!" 

The lio^ht was streaming upon his cheery, manly 
face. " Why, how do j^ou do, Aunt Poll}' ?" 

"I 'clare 'fo' G-aud de chile know me, and in de dark, 
too !" And Aunt Polly doubled herself up and chuckled 
blissfully. 

"Know you! why, it was only last October that I 
went off to the University!" 

" Dat so, Marse Billy. How we old people does for- 
git, to-be-sho !" 

I may remark, here, that before the late war it was 
very gratifying to a middle-aged negro to be thought 
old. There was on every farm a considerable propor- 
tion of the ladies and gentlemen of color who had 
voted themselves too old or too infirm to labor. Their 
diseases, — they were all diseased, — while masking their 
malignity behind such empirical euphemisms as rheu- 
matiz or miserj^ in de chist, baffled all diagnosis, and 
were invariably incurable ; for who can minister to a 
mind diseased with that most obstinate of ailments, an 
aversion, to wit, to putting in movement the muscles 
of one's own body ? There was, so to speak, an Hopital 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. I77 

des Invalides on every furm ; and on my grandfather's 
the emeriti and emeritce were in strong force. 

And truly it was a pleasant sight, provided you were 
not a political economist or a philanthropist, to walk 
among the cabins, on a bright autumn afternoon, and 
see the good souls sitting, sunning themselves, and hear 
the serene murmur of their prattle, broken, ever and 
anon, by some mellow burst of careless laughter. 

It was tranquillity such as this, I fancy, that Homer 
must have observed in the old men of his day. Don't 
you remember when there was a truce, and Priam was 
standing upon the battlements, — what book was it? — 
but no matter, — and he sent for Helen to come and 
point out to him the various Greek heroes who stood 
beneath the walls ; and how she had to pass by a knot 
of ancient men, and how she amazed them by her 
beauty? The days of toil and sweat and wounds, for 
them, at least, were past ; and they, too, had come to 
catch, from the turrets, a glimpse of wide-ruling Aga- 
memnon and Ulysses of many wiles ; of the brawn of 
Ajax ; and of Diomede, equal to the immortal gods. 
And there they sat, hobnobbing and a-trwittering — so 
the master says — low and sw^eet as so many cicadas — 
let us say katydids — from greenwood tree. 

"No wonder," they chirped, "the G-reeks and Tro- 
jans" (they were no longer either Greeks or Trojans, — 
they were aged men, merely) " have ceaselessly con- 
tended, for now nearly ten years, about her, — for she is 
divinely beautiful !" 

I think it must have been my childhood's experi- 
ences of plantation life that caused me to be so pro- 
foundly touched by this masterly passage ; for hardly 
elsewhere, in this grimly struggling world of ours, 
could just such scenes have been witnessed. Just 
think of it, for a moment! Here, throughout Vir- 
ginia, there were, in those days, on every farm, three 
or four, or a dozen, or a score of servants, who had 
rested from their labors at an age when one may say 
the struggle glows fiercest with the European races. 
A roof was over their heads, a bright fire crackled on 
their hearths. Their food, if plain, was abundant. And 



178 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

there was not a possibility that these things should ever 
fail them. No wonder they used to rival the aa^errroq 
yiXioq that burst from the ever-serene gods, when lame 
Yulcan, with his ungainly hobble, went to and fro among 
them, officiously passing the nectar. 

That sonorous mellowness of unalloyed laughter we 
shall never hear again. But never mind, — let it pass ! 



CHAPTER XXYIII. 

Yes, let it pass. There was music in that laughter, 
doubtless, but it cost us too dear. I think we Virgin- 
ians* are agreed as to that, — more than agreed, — yet we 
cannot bring ourselves to look as others do, upon the 
state of things which rendered it possible. As one 
man, we rejoice that slavery is dead ; but even the 
victors in the late struggle — the magnanimous among 
them, at least — will hardly find fault with us if we 
drop a sentimental tear, as it were, upon its tomb. A 
reasonable man is glad that an aching tooth is well out 
of his mouth ; but to the autocratic dentist who should 
pull it out by force, his gratitude would not be boister- 
ous; and then, after all, it leaves a void. But cheer 
up, brother Yirginians, listen to your Bushwhackeri^h 
bard while he chaunts you a lay. He would have his 
say; but he will be good and kind. He would not 
willingly bore you ; and hence, ever thoughtful and 
considerate, he serves up his rhetoric in a separate 
course. Skip this chapter, then, if you will. You will 
find the storj" continued in the next. 

Yes, it is all true enough, I admit. It was but the 
other day, so to speak, that the first shipload of negroes 
was landed on the shores of a continent peopled by a 
race which, after all has been said, remain the most in- 
teresting of savages, and who, if not heroes, have easily 

* Obviously, as often elsewhere, Mr. Whacker here says Virginians, in- 
stead of Southernere, to avoid all semblance of sectional feeling. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 179 

become heroic under the magicians' wands of Cooper 
and of Longfellow. That shipload and its successors 
have become millions ; while the genius of a Barnum 
scarce suffices to bring together enough Eedskins to 
make a Knickerbocker holiday. The descendant of 
the naked black, whose tribe, on the Gold Coast, still 
trembles before a Fetish, rustles, beneath fretted ceil- 
ings, in the robes of a bishop; while some chief of the 
kindred, perhaps, of Tecumseh, shivers on the wind- 
swept plains, under the fluttering rags of a contract 
blanket. His half-naked squaw hugs her pappoose to 
lier bosom, and flees before the sabres of our cavalry ; 
but her more deeply-tinted sister struts, beflounced, the 
spouse of a senator. In one word, the race which the 
Anglo-Saxons found on this continent remained free, 
and perished ; the people they imported and enslaved, 
multiplied and flourished. I do not feel myself the 
CEdipus to solve this riddle of modern morals; but, 
with my people, I fail to see the consistency of Victor 
Hugo* for example, who could whine over the fate of 
John Brown, — hanged for an attempt to achieve the 
liberty of the negro through murder, — but who, when 
Captain Jack stood at the foot of the gallows, made no 
sign. Captain Jack, he too, through murder, sought 
to maintain his ancestral right to independence — nay, 
existence — and a few acres of wretched lava-beds. 
The distempered flmcy of the first saw, as he gazed 
upon the corpses of the fellow-citizens of Washington, 
of Jefl"erson, and of Henrj-, countless dusk}^ legions 
rushing to his rescue, — the clear ej^e of the other showed 
him forty millions pouring down upon his less than a 
hundred braves, to avenge the death of Canby ; and yet 
he slew him. John Brown is a hero, his name is a 
legend, his tomb a shrine; but where are thy wretched 
bones slung awaj', poor Jack ? Hadst thou been fair, 
and dwelt in Lacedsemon, in Xerxes' days, the name 
of Leonidas shone not now in solitary glorj'- adown 
the ages ; wert thou living now, and of sable hue, thou 
mightest be sitting at the desk of Calhoun. Alas! 



Written, doubtless, before the death of " The Master."— -^cf. 



180 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

alas! that thou shouldst have been of neutral shade; 
for how couldst thou be a man and a brother, being 
only copper-colored ? 

But leaving these knotty points of ethical casuistry 
to the philanthropists, I reiterate that I think that the 
picture I have drawn of certain aspects of slavery, as it 
existed in Virginia, reveals its fatal weakness. That 
weakness consisted in the fact that it realized the ideal 
set forth in Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables." That 
eloquent work of the erratic French dreamer is one 
long and passionate protest against the sorrows and 
sufferings of the poor. In those sorrows and sufferings 
he finds the source of all the crimes that dishonor 
humanity. Now, as things existed with us, poverty 
sufficiently grinding to produce crime was actually un- 
known ; so that our little world was just the world 
that he sighs for. 

Victor Hugo plumes himself, I believe, upon never 
having learned the gibberish that the English call 
their language. Therefore, as I do not design having 
this work translated into the various modern lan- 
guages (why should I, forsooth, since by the time 
your day rolls round the aforesaid gibberish will be 
the only tongue spoken by mankind ?) he will never 
have the pain of seeing himself ranked among the up- 
holders of slavery. Whatever he might say, however, 
it is very clear that no state of things heretofore ex- 
isting has so well fulfilled the conditions of his ideal of 
society. It is no fault of mine if his ideal be absurd.^^ 

* In my capacity of Bushwhacker, I make it a matter of business to 
laugh whenever I feel like it. I felt like it when, on reading tlie above, 
this parallelism occurred to me: the hero of the "Miserables" — Jean 
Valjean — is a thief. Now, holds our author, whenever a man is so un- 
fortunate as to be a thief, no blame should be attached to him, — and he 
puts it about thus : " A thief is not a thief. Nor a crime. He is a 
product. A fact. A titanic fact. A thief is a man who hears the cry 
of a child. It is his child. It is a cry for bread. Society gives him a 
stone. Eflfacement of his rectitude. He appropriates society's wallet. 
And serves society right j for 'tis society has made him a thief." 

Leaving to some coming man the task and the credit of removing from 
society all stain, by discovei'ing who or what made society a thief-maker, 
'tis this that moved my Bushwhackerish soul to smile : this Jean Val- 
jean, whom society is so wicked in producing, turns out to be a better 
man than any other man ever was, is, or shall be. So we, under our 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 181 

For I fear me much this is no ideal world we live in. 

Bat ah, what a lotus-dream we were a-dreaming, 
when from out our blue sky the bolt of war fell upon 
us! We liv^ed in a land in which no one was hungrj', 
none naked, none a-cold ; where no man begged, and 
no man was a criminal, no woman fell — from necessity; 
where no one asked for bread, and all, even the slaves, 
could give it; where Charity was unknown, and in her 
stead stood Hospitalit}^, with open doors. What tidings 
we had, meanwhile, of the things of the outer world, 
made us cherish all the more fondly the quietude of our 
vSleepy Hollow. The nations, had they not filled the 
air for a century past with the murmur of their unrest? 
Revolutions, rebellions, barricades, bread-riots, — agra- 
rianism, communism, the frowning hosts of capital and 
labor — the rumor of these grisly facts and grislier phan- 
toms reached us, but from afar, and as an echo merely; 
and lulled, by our exemption from these ills, into a fatal 
security, we failed to perceive the breakers upon which 
w^e were slowly but surely drifting. The lee-shore 
upon which our ship was so somnolently rocking was 
nothing less than bankruptcy. Spendthrifts, we dreamed 
that our inheritance was too vast ever to be dissipated ; 
nay, we fondly imagined that we were adding to our 
substance. Did not our statesmen, our Able Editors, un- 
ceasingl}^ assure us that we were the richest people on 
the globe, and growing daily richer? And what had 
been that inheritance? A noble, virgin land, unsur- 
passed, all things considered, anywhere, — a land that 

very sinful system, would seem to have prepared for the elective fran- 
chise a whole people lately buried in heathenism, without, as it were, 
half trying. Nor does this claim rest merely upon that braggartism so 
peculiarly Southern. The very best people on the other side — nay, the 
people who, by their own admission, embrace all the culture and virtue 
of the country — have been the first to give us this meed of praise. — yet 
it is notorious that very few white men are yet, with all their Bacons, 
and Sydneys, and Hampdens, and Jeffersons to enlighten them, qualified 
for that august function. Nay, even in France herself, though she is, 
as Yictor Hugo says, — and he should know, — the mother and the father, 
and the uncle and the aunt, and the brother and the sister of civiliza- 
tion, I believe there are Frenchmen not yet fitted to wield the ballot, 
— among whom, I doubt not, some profane persons would make so bold 
as to class the illustrious rhapsodist himself. 

16 



182 THE STORV OF DON MIFF. 

cost us nothing beyond the beads of Captain Smith and 
the bullets of his successors, — a land which no mort- 
gages smothered, no tax-gatherer devoured. But 
smothered and devoured it was, and by our slaves. 

It is doubtful whether slavery was ever, at any stage 
of the world's history, wise, from an economical point 
of view, though it was, of course, in one aspect, in the 
interest of humanity, when, at some prehistoric period, 
men began to enslave rather than butcher their prison- 
ers of war. But it seems very clear, that if the condi- 
tions of any society were ever such that its greatest 
productive force could only be realized through the 
restraints and -constraints of slavery, then that slavery 
must needs have been absolute and pitiless. No half- 
and-half system will suffice. Severe and continuous 
labor is endured by no man who can avoid it. But 
labor, continuous and severe, is the price paid by the 
great mass of mankind for the mere privilege of being 
counted in the census ; so terrible is that struggle for 
existence, of the Darwinian dispensation, which, whether 
we be Darwinians or not, we must needs live under. 
This, in our dreamland, we quietly ignored. The politi- 
cal economists are all agreed that from the sharpest 
toil little more can be hoped for than the barest sup- 
port of the toilers; and we were not ignorant of politi- 
cal economy. But is there not an exception to every 
rule? And were we not that exception? In our 
favored nook, at least, the cold dicta of science should 
not hold swaj". And so our toilers did half work, — and 
got double rations. In one word, we spent more than 
we made. And although we could not be brought to 
see this, it became very plain when the war came and 
settled our accounts for us ; for I venture to assert that 
in April, 1865, the State of Yirginia was worth intrinsi- 
cally less than when, in 1607, Captain John Smith and 
his young gentlemen landed at Jamestown. In other 
Avords, there had been going on for two hundred and 
fifty years a process the reverse of accumulation. For 
that length of time we had been living on our principal, 
— the native wealth of the soil. While, in other parts 
of the country, the struggle for existence had caused 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 183 

barrenness to bloom, the very rocks to grow fat, in ours 
the struggle for ease had converted a garden into some- 
thing very like a wilderness. The forests we found had 
fallen ; the rich soil of many wide districts was washed 
into the sea, leaving nothing to represent them ; and 
Avhen the smoke of battle cleared awa}^, we saw a naked 
land. It could not have been otherwise. Thoroughly 
imbued with the spirit of the nineteenth century, as 
well as the principles of the Jeffersonian Democracy, 
we were entangled in a system of things not compati- 
ble, profitably at least, with either. We could not for- 
get that our slaves were human. There were ties that 
we felt in a hundred ways. We loved this old nurse. 
We humored that old butler. We indulged, here a 
real, there a sham invalid, until, in one word, the thing 
began to cost more than it came to, and it was time we 
shook off the incubus. 

And there was a time when many Virginians, now 
living, began to see this ; and had they been let alone, 
not many years would have passed before we should 
have freed ourselves from the weight that oppressed 
us. But in an evil hour there arose a handful of men 
with a mission, — a mission to keep other people's con- 
sciences, — often— as certain national moral phenomena 
subsequently showed— to the neglect of that charity 
which begins at home. From that day all rational 
discussion of the question became impossible in Vir- 
ginia; and a consummation for which many of the 
wisest heads were quietly laboring became odious even 
to hint at, under dictation from outsiders ; and on the 
day when the first abolition society was formed, the 
fates registered a decree that slavery should go down ; 
not in peace, but by war ; not quietly and gradually 
extinguished, with the consent of all concerned, but 
with convulsive violence,— drowned in the blood of a 
million men, and the tears of more than a million 
women. 

Well, they were only white men and women, — so let 
that pass, too. 



184 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTEE XXIX. 

'' Git out o' de way, you nigi^ers ! Aint y' all got no 
manners? Git out o' Marse Billy way! I declar' fo' 
Gaud nio;2;ers ain't e:ot no manners dese days. Tain't 
like it used to be. Y' all gittin' wuss and wuss." 

So saying, Aunt Polly made an unceremonious open- 
ing among the eager heads of the youngsters that were 
thrust into the door-way ; and Billy pressed laughing 
through the throng, nodding here and there as he 
passed. His arrival was hailed with beaming smiles 
by the ladies, and an almost uproarious welcome by 
the gentlemen. The Don had already opened his heart 
to him before he had gotten within introducing dis- 
tance, charmed by his frank and manly bearing, his 
hearty manner with the gentlemen, his gentle defer- 
ence to each lady in turn. So Billy's sunny face, his 
cordial rushing hither and thither to greet his friends, 
his cheery laugh as he exchanged a bright word here 
and there, — a laugh that revealed a set of powerful and 
large, though well-shaped teeth, — all this had lighted 
up the thoughtful face of the Don with a sympathetic 
glow, — a glow that vanished when, on their being in- 
troduced, Billj-'s fist closed upon his hand. 

Mr. Billy was always a great favorite with me. In- 
deed, I like to think of him as a kind of ideal young 
Yirginian of those days, — so true, and frank, and cor- 
dial, and unpretending. But there is one thing — I have 
mentioned it above — that, as a historian, I am bound 
to confess: Billy was addicted to playing on the fiddle. 

" So, young ladies," said my grandfather (for whose 
annual tunes no one, somehow, had thought of calling), 
"3'ou will have a fiddle to dance by, after all." A re- 
mark that elicited a joyous clapping of hands ; and 
there was a general stir for partners. 

" Dares any man to speak to me of fiddling," said 
Billy, " before I have punished a few dozen of these 
bivalves?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 185 

"That's right, Billy! Dick, some oysters for Mr. 
Jones ! They were never better than this season !" 

Billy passed into the next room, where Dick and his 
spouse began to serve him with hospitable zeal. 

" How was she, Marse Billy ?" 

Billy had just disposed of a monster that Dick had 
opened for him, and was looking thoughtful. 

"Uncle Dick, it almost makes me cry to think how 
much better that oyster was than any we can get at 
the University ; indeed it does." 

Dick chuckled with delight. "I believe you, Marse 
Billy; dey tells me dere ain't no better oysters in all 
Fidginny dan de Leicester oyster." 

Four or five students, who, like Billy, had run down 
home for the holidays, had collected round the door- 
way leading into the library, and with them several 
girls who w^ere listening in a half-suppressed titter to 
Billy's solemn waggery. Lifting a huge " bivalve" on 
the prongs of his fork, he contemplatively surveyed it. 

"You are right. Uncle Dick; Solomon, in all his 
glory, was not arrayed like one of these!" 

"jess so ! What 1 tell you, Polly ?" said Dick, straight- 
ening himself and holding an unopened oyster in one 
hand and his knife in the other. "Didn't I say the 
Nuniversity Avas de most high-larnt school in de Nunited 
States?" 

Polly, being Mrs. Dick, had too great an admiration 
for that worth^-'s wisdom to do anything but simper 
assent. 

" Jess so," — and he held his eye upon her till he felt 
sure that she had abandoned all thought of protesting 
against his dictum, — " eben so. You right, Marse Billy ; 
Solomon nor no other man never raised 'em like one o' 
dese. Ain't you takin' nothin' to-night, Marse William? 
Dey tells me toddy help a oyster powerful." 

"Uncle Dick," exclaimed Billy, with admiring sur- 
prise, " how do you manage always to know exactly 
what a fellow wants?" 

"Marse William,"— and Dick drew himself up to his 
full height,— "I ain't been 'sociatin' wid de quality all 
dese years for nothin'." 

16* 



186 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

The dancing being over at a reasonable liour, — Billy 
and the Herr furnishing the music, — the ladies retired 
to their rooms in the " Great-House," leaving the gen- 
tlemen to their toddy and cigars ; and a jovial crew they 
became. Billy and the Herr bore a large part in the 
entertainment of the company, — the former executing 
reel and jig and jig and reel in dashing style, — the lat- 
ter improvising accompaniments, — his head thrown 
back, a cigar-stump between his teeth, and contem- 
plating, through his moist spectacles, with a serene Teu- 
tonic merriment, the capers of the revellers, one or 
another of whom could not, from time to time, resist 
the fascination of the rhythm, but would spring to his 
feet and execute something in the nature of a Highland 
fling or a double-shuffle, to the great delight of the 
others, and of none more than ni}^ glorious old grand- 
father. It is needless to remark that at each one of 
these Terpsichorean exhibitions there Avas a suppressed 
roar of chuckles to be heard issuing from the sable 
throng that crowded the door-ways, and that there 
might have been seen as many rows of ivories as there 
were heads massed together there. 

" It is refreshing, Mr. Whacker," observed the Don, 
whose reserve was unmistakably thawing under the 
apple-toddy, "to see a man of your age sj'mpathizing 
so heartily with us youngsters in our enjoyments." 

" Yes," remarked the old gentleman, lolling comfort- 
ably back in his chair; " but I am not so sure that I have 
left all the fun to the youngsters ;" and he nodded to- 
wards his empty glass; "but I believe I enjoy the 
ca))ers of the bo3^s more than the todd}-." 

"Go it, Billy!" cried a student, as that artist dashed 
into a jig with a zeal heightened by the enthusiasm of 
the now slightly booz}^ Herr. 

"Bravo!" cried Mr. Whacker; "you will have to 
look to your laurels, Charle}'." 

" Oh, I resign !" said Charley, examinino- the ras; on 
IS nnger. 

" By the way, Charley, you have not yet shown Mr. 
Smith the old Guarnerius. Do you take any interest in 
such things?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 187 

" I have a great curiosity to see it." 

" I am afraid it will not show off to advantage. I 
have forgotten to have it mounted with strings tKis 
Christmas. Do you know that a violin gets hoarse, as 
it were, from lying idle?" 

" I have heard something of the kind." 

" I should have had it strung several days ago." 

"I put strings on it day before yesterday," said 
Charley. 

"Indeed!" said my grandfather; "but you were 
always thoughtful. Let us have it, Charley." 

Charley's return with the violin made a stir among the 
company. Billy stopped his fiddling and came up, fol- 
lowed by all present, to see opened the case that con- 
tained the wonderful instrument, which was a sort of 
lion among the fiddlers of the county. My grandfather 
unlocked the case with a certain nervous eagerness, 
raised the lid almost reverentlj-, and removing the 
padded silken covering which protected it, " Now just 
look at that," said the old gentleman, his eye kindling. 

I have often seen ladies take their female friends to 
the side of a. cradle, and softly turning down the cover- 
let, look up, as much as to say, "Did you ever see 
anything half so beautiful?" And I must do the 
female friends the justice to add that they always 
signified that they never had ; and I have often seen 
the subject of such unstinted praise, when brought be- 
fore males, pronounced a pretty enough baby, but a 
baby seemingly in no wise different from all the babies 
that are, have been, or shall be; and on such occasions 
I can recall, methinks, some maiden aunt, for example, 
who has ended by getting worried at the persistent in- 
ability of some obstinate young fellow to see certain 
])oints of superiority about mouth, eyes, or nose, which 
to her were very clear. And so it was on this occasion, 
as on many previous ones, w^ith my grandfather. He 
was always amazed, w^hen he showed his violin, at the 
polite coldness of the praise that it received. 

"Look at those /-holes," said he, taking the violin 
out of its case ; " look at those clean-cut corners !" And 
everybody craned his neck and tried to see the clean- 

16* 



188 THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 

cut corners. " What a contour!" exclaimed the enthu- 
siastic old gentleman, holding the instrument off at 
arm's length and gazing rapturously upon it. There 
was a murmur of adhesion, as the French say. 

"Splendid!" ejaculated Billy, feeling that something 
was due from him as the fiddler of the evening ; thereby 
drawing the gleaming eyes of Mr. Whacker full upon 
him. "Splendid!" repeated he, in a somewhat lower 
tone, and looking steadfastly at the violin ; for he could 
not look the old gentleman in the face, — knowing — the 
honest scamp — that he was a fraud, and saw nothing 
wonderful in the instrument. 

"Why, hand me that old gourd you have been play- 
ing on," said Mr. Whacker; and he snatched the fiddle 
from Billy's hand. "Look at those two scrolls, for 
example," said the old gentleman, bumping them to- 
gether within three inches of Billy's nose. 

Billy took the two necks in his hands, screwed up 
his face, and tried his best to look knowing; but his 
broad, genial countenance could not bear the tension 
long; and a sudden flash of humor from his kindly 
eyes set the company in a roar, in which my grand- 
father could not help joining. 

" Well, well," said he, "I suppose I ought not to ex- 
pect you to be a connoisseur in violins. W^ould you 
like to examine it?" said Mr. Whacker, thinking he 
detected a look of interest on the part of the Don, — and 
he handed him the instrument. 

The Unknown took it in an awkward and confused 
sort of way. My grandfather looked chopfallen. "I 
thought that possibly you might have seen Cremonas 
in p]urope," observed the old man timidly. 

The Don bowed, — whether in assent or dissent was 
not clear; nor was it any clearer, as he gently rocked 
it to and fro, examining the /-holes and other points of 
what is known as the belly of the instrument, whether 
he was moved by curiosity or by courtesy. A motion of 
his wrist brought the back of the instrument in view. 
"By Jove!" vehemently exclaimed the stranger, as a 
flood of golden light flashed into his eyes from the un- 
approachable varnish ; but he colored and looked con- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 189 

fused when he saw that his warjnth had drawn the 
eyes of all upon himself. Even Charley ceased exam- 
ining; the handage on his fini^er and quietly scrutinized 
the l)on out of the corners of his e3'es. 

But 3'ou should have seen your ancestor and mine, 
my dear boy. He rose from his seat without sa3'ing a 
single word. There was an expression of defiance in 
his tine brown eyes, not unmingled with solemnity. 
He held out his U))turned hands as though he were 
going to begin a speech, I was going to say, — but it was 
not that. His look and attitude were those of an ad- 
vocate who has just brought a poser to bear on opposing 
counsel. And such my grandfather felt was his case. 
" For 3'ears," his looks seemed to say, " I have been 
chafted about my Guarnerius by you bumpkins, and 
now here comes a man who puts you all down' by one 
word." He looked from face to face to see if any of the 
company had anything to say to the contrary. At last 
his eye met Billy's. That young gentleman, willing to 
retrieve his disastrous defeat in the matter of scrolls 
and contours and /-holes, again came to the front. 

"Doesn't it shine !" remarked that unfortunate youth, 
approvingly. 

"Shine!" shouted my grandfather, indignantly, — 
"shine!" repeated he with rising voice, and rapping 
the back of the violin with his knuckles, — " do you 
call that shiny?" said he, with another rap, and hold- 
ing the instrument in front of Billy. " Why, a tin pan 
shines, — a well-fed negro boy's face shines, — and you say 
that shines," he added, with an argumentative rap. "Is 
that the wa^^ you are taught to discriminate in the use 
of words at the University?" And the old gentleman 
smiled, mollified by Billy's evident confusion and the 
shouts of laughter that greeted his discomfiture. 

" Why, Uncle Tom, if that violin doesn't shine, what 
does it do ?" 

" Why, it — well — I should say — ahem ! — in fact, it — 
I—" 

" What would you call it. Uncle Tom ?" urged Billy, 
rallying bravely from his rout, and trying to assume a 
wicked smile. 



190 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"What would I call it? I would call it— well— the 
violin — confound it! I should hold my tongue rather 
than say that violin was shiny." And the old gentleman 
turned upon his heel and stalked across the room; but 
Billy was not the man to relinquish his advantage. 

"Now, Uncle Tom, that is not fair," said he, follow- 
ing up his adversary,. and holding on to the lappel of 
his coat in an affectionately teasing manner. "Give us 
your word." 

"Shin}^! shiny!" spluttered the old gentleman with 
testy scorn. 

" Ah, but that w^on't do. Let the company have 
your word, Uncle Tom." And the young rogue tipped 
a wink to a knot of students. " The violin is — ?" 

"Effulgent!" shouted his adversary, wheeling upon 
him and bringing down the violin, held in both hands, 
with a swoop. 

I shall take the liberty here of assuming that my read- 
ers are, as I was myself, till Charley enlightened me, 
ignorant of the fact that the varnish of the violins of 
the old masters is considered a great point. Collectors 
go into raptures over the peculiar lustre of their old 
instruments, which, they say, is the despair of modern 
makers. I have myself seen, or at least handled, but 
one of them, — my grandfather's old G-uarnerius, — and 
that, certainly, was singularly beautiful in this respect. 

" Effulgent !" cried he, his noble brown eyes dilated, 
his head tossed back and swaying from side to side, — 
tapping genth', with the finger-nails of his right hand, 
the back of the violin, upon which the light of a neigh- 
boring lamp danced and fia?ned. The students indi- 
cated to Billy, in their hearty fashion, that he had got 
w^hat he wanted, and Mr. Whacker, spurred on by their 
approval, rose to the height of his great argument. 

" Just look at that," said he, turning with enthusiasm 
to one of the students, — "just look at that," he repeated, 
flashing the golden light into the eyes of another; 
" wh}^, it almost seems to me that we have here the 
ver}^ rays that, a century ago, this maple wood absorbed 
in its pores from the sun of Italy." 

How much more my grandfather was going to say 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 191 

I know not ; ibv he was interrupted by a storm of 
applause from his young auditors. 

"1 say, boys, that's a regular old-fashioned 'curl/" 
whispered one of them. 

" Uncle Tom," said Billj^, removing the bow from the 
case, " does this effulge any ?" 

" But, Mr. Whacker," observed a fat and jolly middle- 
aged gentleman, ''it strikes me that the important 
thing about a fiddle is its tone, not its varnish. Now, 
do you really think your Cremona superior to a twenty- 
dollar fiddle in tone? Honestly now, is there any 
difference worth mentioning?" 

"Any difference? Heavens above! Why, listen!" 
And the old gentleman drew the bow slowly over 
double strings, till the air of the room seemed to palpi- 
tate with the rich harmony. "Did you ever hear 
anything like that?" exclaimed he, with flushing face; 
and he drew the bow again and again. There were 
exclamations of admiration — realorafl*ected — all around 
the room. 

The Don alone was silent. 

I remember looking towards him with a natural 
curiosity to see what he — the only stranger present — 
appeared to think of the instrument; but he gave no 
sign, — none, at least, that I could interpret. He was 
gazing fixedly at my grandfather with a sort of ra])t 
look, — his head bowed, his lips firmly compressed, but 
twitching a little. His eyes had a certain glitter about 
them, strongly contrasting with their usual expression 
of unobtrusive endurance. I looked towards Charley, 
but his eyes did not meet mine; for he had turned his 
chair away from the fire, and was scrutinizing the 
stranger's face with a quiet but searching look. 

"It is a little hoarse from long disuse," said Mr. 
Whacker, drawing the bow^ slowly as before. 

"Give us a tune, Uncle Tom?" 

" Yes, yes !" joined in a chorus. " Give us a tune !" 

"Pshaw!" said the old gentleman, "it would be a 
profanation to play a 'tune' on this instrument." 

" There is where I don't agree with you, Mr. 
Whacker," put in the fat and jolly middle-aged gen- 



192 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

tleman. '' The last time I was in Eiclimond I went 
to hear Ole Bull ; and such stuff as he played I wish 
never to hear again, — nothing but running up and 
down the strings, with de'il a bit of tune that I could 
see." 

" That's precisely my opinion," said another. " Con- 
found their science, say I." 

"Why, yes," continued the joU}^ fat middle-aged 
gentleman, encouraged. " The fact is, it spoils a fiddler 
to teach him his notes. Music should come from the 
heart. Why, I don't wish to flatter our friend Billy 
here, but, so far as I am concerned, I would rather 
hear him than all the Ole Bulls and Paganinis that 
ever drew a bow." 

" Eather hear Billy ? I should think so ! Why, any 
left-handed negro fiddler can beat those scientific fel- 
lows all hollow." 

My grandfather, during the passage at arms that en- 
sued upon the expression of these sentiments, grew 
rather warm, and at last appealed to the Don. He, as 
though loath to criticise the performance of our friend 
Billy, spoke guardedly. " I should think," said he, " that 
music would be like anj^thing else, — those who devoted 
most time to it would be most proficient." 

" Of gourse !" broke in the Herr, who had not allowed 
the discussion to draw him very far from the bowl of 
todd}^ "Now, joost look at unser frient Pilly. Dot 
yung nion has a real dalent for de feedle, — but vot ho 
blay? Noding als reels unt cheeks unt zuch dinks. 
Joost sent dot yung mon one time nach Europen, unt 
by a goot master. Donnerwetter, I show you somedink ! 
Tausendteufels!" added he, draining his glass, "vot for 
a feedler dot yung Pilly make !" 

I may remark that just in proportion as the Herr 
mollified his water did he dilute his English. Just in 
proportion as he approached the bottom of a punch- 
bowl did the language of Shakespeare and Milton 
become to him an obscure idiom. 

" Won't you try its tone?" said Mr. Whacker, ofi'er- 
ing the violin and bow to the Don. 

" Oh," replied he, de^^recatingly. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. I93 

" It's of no consequence that you can't play," insisted 
the old gentleman. " Just try the tone. Here, this 
way," added he, putting the violin under the Don's 
chin. 

It ma}" seem strange that I, a bachelor, should be so 
fond of illustrating my scenes by means of babies; but 
as the whole frame-work and cast of this story compels 
me to marry at some future day, I may be allowed to 
say that the Don held the violin just as I have seen 
young fellows hold an infant that had been thrust into 
their arms by some mischievous young girl. Afraid to 
refuse to take it lest the mother be hurt, they are in 
momentary terror lest it fall. 

" There ! So !" exclaimed the old gentleman, adjust- 
ing the instrument. 

While everj' one else smiled at the scene, Charley 
was, strangely enough, almost convulsed with a noise- 
less chuckle that brought the tears into his eyes. 

" The old boy feels his toddy," thought I. 

The Don began to scrape dismallj^ 

"Ah, don't hold the bow so much in the middle! — 
So! — That's better! — !N"ow pull away ! Keep the bow 
straight !— There, that's right ! So !— " 

Charlej' rocked in his seat. 

" Now, up ! Down ! Up ! Down ! Up ! Yery good I 
Down ! Up ! Bow sti-aight ! — " 

Charley leaped from his chair and held his sides. 
"Well, even Cato occasionally moistened his cla}^ 

"So! Better still! Excellent! Upon my word, 
you are an apt scholar!" 

Charley dropped into his seat, threw back his head, 
and shut his eyes. 

The Don paused, smiling. 

"What a tone!" exclaimed my grandfather. "Oh! 
cried he with intense earnestness, " if — if I could but 
hear, once again, an artist play upon that violin !" 

The smile passed from the Unknown's face. A 
strange look came into his eyes, as though his thoughts 
were far away. His chin relaxed its hold upon the 
violin and pressed upon his breast. His right arm 
slowly descended till the tip of the bow almost touched 
in 17 



194 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

the floor; and there he stood, his eyes fixed upon the 
ground. A stillness overspread the company. No one 
moved a muscle save Charley. He, with an odd smile 
in his eyes, softly drew from his pocket a small pen- 
knife and held it in his left hand, with the nail of his 
right thumb in the notch of the blade. 

Slowly, and as if unconsciously to himself, the Don's 
right arm began to move. The violin rose, somehow, 
till it found its way under his chin. 

Charley opened his knife. 

There were signs in the Unknown's countenance of 
a sharp but momentary struggle, when his right arm 
suddenly sprang from its pendent position, and the 
wrist, arched like the neck of an Arab courser, stood, 
for a second, poised above the bridge. 

Charley passed the blade of his knife through the 
threads that bound the bandage about his finger, and 
the linen rag fell to the floor; and he rose and folded 
his arms across his breast. 

The bow descended upon the G string. The stranger 
gave one of those quick upstrokes with the lowest inch 
of the horse-hair, followed by a down-stroke of the 
whole length of the bow. 



CHAPTEE XXX. 



The note sounded was the lower A, produced, if I 
may be allowed to enrich my style with a borrowed 
erudition, by stopping the G string with the first finger. 
Whimsical as the idea may seem to a musician, I have 
always considered this the noblest tone within the 
register of the violin ; and such an A I had never be- 
fore heard. I have already mentioned the extraordi- 
nary acoustical properties of this room, the very air of 
which seemed to palpitate, the very walls to tremble 
beneath the powerful vibrations. The deep, long-drawn 
tone ceased, and again the wrist stood for a moment 
arched above the bridge. A breathless stillness reigned 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 195 

throughout the room, while the Don stood there, with 
pale i'ace, his dark eyes "in a fine frenzy rolling," — 
stood there, one might say, in a trance, forgetful of his 
audience, forgetful of self, unconscious of all else save the 
violin clasped between chin and breast. Down came 
the fingers of the left hand ; with them the bow de- 
scended, this time upon all four strings ; and four notes 
leaped forth, crisp, clear, and sparkling, brilliant as 
shootinoj-stars ! Then chord after chord; and, in mad 
succession, arpeggios, staccatos, pizzicatos, chromatic 
scales, octaves, fierce, dizzy leaps from nut to bridge, 
cries of jo}', mutterings of rage, moans of despair, all 
were there, — a very pandemonium of sound ! 

It was not a composition, — hardly an improvisation, 
even ; for neither was key sustained nor time ob- 
served. It resembled, more than anything else I can 
compare it to, the mad carolling of a mocking-bird as he 
flaps and sails from the topmost branch of a young 
tulip poplar to another hard b}^, pouring forth in scorn- 
ful profusion his exhaustless and unapproachable tide 
of song, little recking what comes first and what next, 
— whether the clear whistle of the partridge, the shrill 
piping of the woodpeckei', or the gentle plaint of the 
turtle-dove. 

And the mad dancing of the bow went on, amid a 
silence that was absolute. But it was a silence like 
that of a keg of gunpowder, where a spark suffices to 
release the imprisoned forces. 

The spark came in the shape of an interjection from 
the deep chest of Uncle Dick. 

But how am I to represent that interjection to pos- 
terity? 

There came a pause. 

" Umgh-u-m-g-h!" grunted our venerable butler. And 
straightway there ensued a scene which — 

But future ages must first be told precisely what 
Uncle Dick said ; for, as all Virginians, at least, know, 
when you limit yourself to reporting of a man that he 
said umgh-umgh, you have given a meagre and inade- 
quate, certainly an ambiguous, interpretation of his 
sentiments. 



196 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Not to go into any refinements, it suffices to say 
that besides a score of other umgh-umghs of radically 
distinct significance, there are umgh-umghs which 
mean yes, and umgh-umghs which mean no. For ex- 
ample, " Dearest, do you love me ?" Now the uragh- 
umgh that may be supposed in this case is a kind of 
flexible, india-rubber yes, ranging all the way from 
"Perhaps" to "Oh, most dearljM" (but Charley says 
that it is umgh-humgh, not umgh-umgh, that means 
yes;) now follow up 3'our question with a demonstra- 
tion as though you would test matters, — umgh-umgh ! 
What a no is there I "Are you crazy? Eight out 
here in the summer-house! with people strolling all 
around, and the vines so thin that — " 

Now, Uncle Dick's umgh-umgh was not at all an 
umgh-umgh affirmative, still less an umgh-umgh nega- 
tive. 'Twas rather an umgh-umgh eulogistic, as though 
he said, Words are inadequate to express my feelings. 
Now, a less painstaking author than myself would say 
no more just here; aware that ever}^ Virginian, at 
least, knows what is meant by the umgh-umgh eulo- 
gistic ; but the contemporary reader must pardon me 
for reminding him that this book has not been written 
entirely, or even mainl}^, for him, but rather for genera- 
tions yet unborn, — notably the generations of the 
Whackers. I esteem it, therefore, singularly fortunate 
that my friend Charlej^ happens to have made an ex- 
haustive study of this same umgh-umgh language, and 
especially so that he has been at the pains of elucida- 
ting his subject by means of a musical notation. Know, 
then, oh, pj'opinqui longinqui! — oh, maims innumerahiles 
Whackerorum! — that the exact sound uttered by that 
unapproachable Automedon was : 

Carlo Frobisherini. Opus 99. 
Andante sostenuto e scherzando. 






SoUo voce. Uragh - uingh ! 



"An ViXidiSiWiQ scherzando f exclaimed my grandfather, 
on seeing the notation; "how is that?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 197 

"'Tis because mine Uncle Eichard hath neglected 
the study of thorough bass ; hence he warbleth his na- 
tive wood-notes wild," quoth Charley. 

But to return to the scene in the Hall. And I beg 
that the reader will place himself entirely in my hands, 
while I endeavor to make him realize everj^ feature of 
that scene, — for it really occurred just as he will find 
it recorded. 

Figure to yourselves, then, my countless readers and 
admirers, first the Hall itself, with its lofty ceiling and 
its spacious, well-waxed floor of heart-pine so nicely 
joined that it was a sound-board in itself At one end 
of the room stood a piano ; at the other was a vast 
open fireplace, in which, supported by tall and glisten- 
ing andirons, there glowed a noble fire of hickory logs 
five feet long. The furniture in the room was peculiar, 
consisting of a square table of exceeding lightness, 
and chairs that you might toss in the air with your 
little finger, — all with a view to the least yjossible weight 
upon the floor, — though I must say that they were 
often the means of bringing heavy weights in contact 
with it. Add to these a lounge of slenderest propor- 
tions, upon which my grandfather loved to recline, 
pipe in mouth, whenever any music was going forward ; 
and you have all the furniture that the room possessed. 
Of other objects there were absolutely none upon the 
floor, except four cases containing the instruments 
needful to a string quartet ; and these stood each in its 
own corner, as though on ill terms. The old gentle- 
man had banished from the Hall even his collection of 
music, great piles of which were stowed away in the 
adjoining room ; for he insisted that its weight would 
mar the resonance of the Hall. It remains but to 
add that upon the walls no painting or engraving 
was allowed. Their smooth finish showed no crack, 
— so that the Herr used to say that the hall, if 
strung, would have been a very goot feedle for Boly- 
phemoos, or some oder of dem chiant singers to blay 
on. 

So much for the Hall, around which, on the Christ- 
mas Eve in question, were grouped nearly all my grand- 



198 TEE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

father's slaves old enough to be out on so cold a night, 
reinforced by many of Charley's. 

And I am not so sure that the outsiders were not 
having a merrier time than the insiders. For every 
now and then, throughout the evening, my grandfather 
might have been seen passing glasses of toddy or egg- 
nog to one or another of the favorite old servants, as 
he observed them in the throng; and Charley and I 
saw that the rest had no cause to feel slighted. All had 
their share, — if not of toddy, at least of that without 
which all toddy is a delusion and a shadow. Then the 
sound of Jones's fiddle could not be kept within-doors, 
and such of them as despaired of forcing their way 
through the masses around the windows and doors 
had formed rings, where, by the light of the wintry 
moon, the champion dancers of the two farms exhibited 
to admiring throngs what they knew about the double- 
shuffle and the break-down; and the solid earth re- 
sounded beneath the rhythm of their brogans. To me, 
I remember, they seemed happy, at the time; which 
goes to show how little I knew about happiness, — and 
I believe that they too were under the same delusion ; 
but their early educations had been neglected. 

Happy or wretched, however, let them form a frame, 
as it were, for the picture I would conjure up for my 
reader. The first note drawn forth by the Don had 
arrested their attention, and there was a rush for every 
spot from which a view could be had of the performer. 
See them, therefore, a few of the older ones just inside 
the door, the less fortunate craning their necks behind, 
and upon their faces that rapt attention which is an 
inspiration to an artist. See those others who, huddled 
upon boxes and barrels piled beneath the windows, are 
flattening their noses, one might almost say, against 
the lower panes. At the library door stood one or two 
'tidy house-maids. Uncle Dick, alone, stood near the 
I'oaring fire, he assuming that his services were re- 
quired. 

"Hi! what dat?" exclaimed a youngster, when the 
strange sound first broke upon his ear; for he could 
not see the Don from where he stood. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 199 

" Ileisb, boy !" broke in a senior, in stern rebuke ; 
"Don't 3'ou see 'tis de new gent'mim a-pla3in' on the 
fiddle?" And silence reigned again, — a silence broken, 
from time to time, by a low, rippling chuckle of intense 
delight, and illumined, one might say, by the whites of 
an hundred pairs of wondering eyes. 

And now let us glance at the dozen gentlemen who 
sat within, beginning with my dear old grandfather. 

At the first long-drawn, sonorous note he had sprung 
to his feet ; and there he stood, with both hands raised 
and extended as though he commanded silence. And 
his countenance! never had I seen it look so beau- 
tiful! A happy smile lit up his noble face, and he 
seemed to sa}^ as he looked from Charley to me, and 
from me to Charley, "At last!" And Charley stood 
leaning against a corner of the mantel-piece, with his 
arms folded, repljnng to his friend with sympathetic 
glances. It was plain to see that he was happy in his 
old friend's happiness, but there was a droll twinkle in 
his eyes that even he could not suppress, though he bit 
his lip. AVhat it meant I could not, of course, divine. 

It was a treat to behold the Herr on this occasion. 
With his forearm resting on the table, his fingers toying 
with the stem of his goblet, he leaned back in his chair 
and smiled, through his gold-rimmed spectacles, with 
a look of profound Germanic content and good nature. 
Not once did he remove his benignant eyes from the Don, 
not even when he raised his halffull glass to bis lips 
and drained it to the last drop. Even then he watched, 
out of the corner of his eye, the fantastic caperings of the 
bow and the lab3'rinthine wanderings of the performer's 
fingers; and slowly replacing his glass upon the table, 
stroked his long and straggling beard so softly that he 
seemed to fear that the sparse hairs would mar the 
music by their rattling. 

One word will suffice for the jolly, fat, middle-aged 
gentleman. He sat with his mouth wide open, tilting 
back in one of my grandfather's skeleton chairs. 

Now, that was not safe. 

But there is one face that I shall not attempt to de- 
scribcj — that of young Jones, the University man, upon 



200 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

whom it flashed, like a revelation, that he had been, 
without knowing it, fiddling away for hours in the pres- 
ence of an artist. It naturally occurred to Billy that a 
huge joke had been perpetrated at his expense ; and 
after the first few notes, he tried to nerve himself to 
meet the explosion of laughter that he momentaril}' ex- 
pected. But his furtive glances from side to side de- 
tected no one looking his way, — no symptom of a joke, in 
fact, — so that the flush of confusion began to recede, sup- 
planted by a glow of enthusiasm. I leave it to the 
reader, then, to imagine the play of expression on the 
countenance of this big, manly fellow, — rejoicing in his 
strength, and brimful of rollicking humor, loving a.joke 
even at his own expense, as he stood there before the 
Don ; at one time carried away by the impetuosity of 
the performer, at another flushing up to his eyes when 
he reflected that, if no one else had served him that 
turn, he, at least, had made a fool of himself. 

This is tableau No. 1, but, for clearness' sake, let me 
retouch its outlines. 

A large room, with a roaring fire at one end, and 
doors open, Yirginia fashion. In the doors and windows 
a background — or blackground — of colored brethren 
and sisters, exhibiting a breathless delight, all their 
teeth, and the largest surface, functionably practicable, 
of the whites of their eyes. Within, stands my grand- 
father, on tiptoe, with outstretched arms, which w^ave 
gently up and down, as, from time to time, snatches of 
rhj'thm drop out of the chaos of chords and runs that 
are pouring from his Guarnerius. Next the jolly fat 
middle-aged gentleman, tilting back, open-mouthed, in 
one of Mr. Whacker's phantom chairs, and rather near 
the fire. Then Mr. William Jones himself, who just at 
this moment has compressed his lips, and resolved that 
he will smash his fiddle and break his bow just so soon 
as he reaches No. 28, East Lawn, U. Y. Then there 
is the Herr Waldteufcl, smiling through clouded glasses, 
but not darkly. Then — to omit half a dozen gentle- 
men — there was the inscrutable Charley, leaning, with 
a certain subdued twinkle in his eyes, against one end 
of the mantel-piece, while near the other stood, in re- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 201 

spectful attitude, Uncle Dick, his hands clasped in front 
of his portly person, his bald head bent low, his left ear 
towards the music, his e3^es fixed askance upon the fire 
to his right. 

Midst this scene of perfect stillness stood the Don, — 
his body swaying to and fro. The old Guarnerius 
seemed to be waking from its long slumber, and, as if 
conscious that once more a master held it, to be warm- 
ing to its work. The music grew madder. At last 
there came some fierce chords, then a furious fortissimo 
chromatic scale of two or three octaves, with a sudden 
and fantastic finish of fiiiry-like harmonics, — the snarl- 
ing -of a tiger, one might say, echoed by the slender 
pipings of a phantom cicada : 



Umgh - uingh 1 



CHAPTEE XXXI. 

It was a match to the mine, that umgh-umgh eu- 
logistic, and the explosion was tremendous ; for my 
grandfather's toddy-bowl, though wide and deep, was 
now nearly empty. In an instant every man was on 
bis feet, cheering at the top of his voice. Such hats as 
were available, seized without regard to ownership, 
were frantically whirling in the air; tumblers went 
round in dizzy circles ; centrifugal toddy was splashing 
in every direction ; while the rear ranks of the colored 
cohorts were scrambling over the backs of those in 
front, to catch a glimpse of the scene. In the midst of 
it all, the honest Herr was to be seen rushing to and 
fro, lustily shouting out some proposition as to the 
health of the stranger. He was brandishing his goblet, 
which he had managed tofill, notwithstandinoj the con- 
fusion, and offering to chink glasses with any and all 
comers, when, as ill luck would have it, he ran into one 



202 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

of the students as enthusiastic as himself, and the twain 
suddenly found themselves holding in their hands noth- 
ing but the stems of their goblets. 

" Ah, mein freund," said he, with a glance at his 
soaked shirt-front, " vot for a poonch vas dat !" 

" Very good, very good !" cried the student, with a 
rousing slap on his shoulder; for a vague feeling came 
over the young man that one of the Herr's puns was 
lurking somewhere in the mist. 

But the most striking figure in tableau No. 2 was 
that of my grandfather. As soon as Uncle Dick's ap- 
plauding grunt had broken the spell that held the com- 
pany, and while all were cheering lustily, he rushed up 
to the Don, and placed his hands in an impressive way 
on his shoulders. The cheering suddenly ceased, and 
all listened intently save the Herr and his student, who, 
having found fresh tumblers, were busy scooping up 
the last of the punch. 

" My friend," said my grandfather, " Charley and I 
are but two in this big house," — and there was a simple 
pathos in his manner and tones. — " Won't you live with 
us — for good ?" 

Tremendous applause greeted this rather thorough- 
going invitation ; and tableau No. 2 dissolved in con- 
fusion ; in the midst of which stood the Don, bowing 
and laughing, and wisely holding high above his head 
the precious violin. 

*' Ah, dere spoke de Earrone!" quoth the Herr, bal- 
ancing himself, and clinking half-filled glasses with his 
student. 

" Good for Uncle Tom !" echoed the latter. 

" So !" chimed in the Herr, blinking at the ceiling 
through the bottom of his tumbler. 

"I am in downright earnest, I assure you," urged 
Mr. Whacker, on remarking the pleased merriment of 
the Don. "Eh, Charley?" 

"So say we all of us!" said Charley, with jovial 
earnestness, and shaking, with great cordiality, the 
stranger's right hand, whence I had removed the bow. 

Uncle Dick now came to the fore again. Uncle 
Eichard was a humorist, and, with all the tact of his 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 203 

race, knew perfectly well, bow, while preserving a 
severe decorum of form, to make his little hit. So 
now, turning to Aunt Polly, with a look on his face of 
childlike simplicity, beneath which lurked a studied 
unconsciousness, he asked, in the most artless stage- 
whisper, — 

"Polly, whar's Marse William Jones?" And rising 
on his toes and letting bis under jaw drop, as one will 
when peering over the heads of a crowd in search of a 
friend's face, he ran his eyes, with a kind of unobtru- 
sive curiosity, over group after group, till the}^ met 
Marse William's ; then instantly dropped them as if he 
simply desired to be assured that his Marse William 
was there. 'Twas perfect art, and the effect electric. 
In an instant all eyes were fixed on Billy. Uproarious 
laughter burst forth from the company, in the midst of 
which the students made a rush for the unhappy fid- 
dler. He had hardl}^ one second's time given him to 
decide what to do ; but before his friends reached him 
be had bowed himself, and, with one leap, sprung far 
under the table, where he lay flat upon the floor, with 
his face buried in his hands, convulsed with almost 
hysterical laughter. 

"Haul him out! haul him out!" rose on all sides, and — 
But just here I must permit mj'self a philosophical 
reflection, the truth of which will be readily acknowl- 
edged by all publicans and sinners, and such other dis- 
reputable persons as, in company with those like-minded 
with themselves, have looked upon the wine when it 
was red. It is this : That fun is literally intoxicating. 
At a wine-party of young men, for example, all things 
will go on smoothl}' for hours. Conversation is going 
forward pleasantly, or speeches heard with decorum. 
A pleasant exhilaration is to be observed, but nothing 
more. Then there will arise, b}'' chance, some one, 
who, we will say, shall sing a capital new comic song, 
calling on the company to join in the chorus. At the 
close of that song you shall wonder what has happened 
to everybody. Why does your right-hand neighbor 
throw his arm across your shoulder and call you old 
boy ? What sudden and inexplicable thirst is this that 



204 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

has seized upon the man on your left, that he should 
be calling for champagne so lustily? What is that 
little fellow, at the other end of the table, doing there, 
standing up in his chair, and waving his glass? What 
strange glow is this that has flashed through your 
frame, bearing along with it the conviction that you 
are all glorious fellows and having a glorious time? 

"Haul him out! haul him out!" And instantly the 
students dived, pell-mell, under the table. It would be 
simply impossible to describe the scene that followed. 
Under the table there was an inextricably entangled 
mass of vigorous young fellows, some on their heads, 
others on their backs, with their heels in the air, tug- 
ging away with might and main at each other's arms 
and legs ; for safety, as to the Greeks at Salamis, had 
arisen for Jones from the very numbers of his foes. 
Meantime the table danced and bumped over the floor, 
rocking and tossing above this human earthquake; 
while around it there arose such peals of uproarious 
laughter as one could not expect to hear twice in a 
life-time. 

" Mein Gott !" gasped the Herr, falling up against the 
piano, and wiping his streaming eyes, " mein Gott, how 
many funs 1" 

But the scene did not last half so long as I have been 
in painting it. It was the middle-aged fat gentleman 
that, in the twinkling of an eye, put an end to all this 
tumultuous laughter, or, at any rate, drew its brunt 
upon himself. 

The M. A. F. G., as above stated, was tilting back in 
one of my grandfather's slender chairs, in front of the 
fire, balancing himself on tiptoe, and rocking to and 
fro with uncontrollable laughter. In front of him a 
student was backing out from under the table, all 
doubled up, his head not yet free from its edge, and 
tugging away manfully at the leg of a comrade. Sud- 
denly the foot he held resigned its boot to his keeping. 
The M. A. F. G. could hardly tell, afterwards, what It 
was that, like a battering-ram of old, smote him at the 
junction of vest and trousers; but it would seem to 
have been that student's head. Up flew his heels, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 205 

crash went the cbair, and, quicker than thought, he 
was sprawlin*^ upon his back in the midst of that roar- 
iuir hickory fire. A dozen hands seized and dragged 
him forlh. Jones and his fiddle were forgotten ; and 
he and his young friends emerged from under the table 
to join in the shouts of laughter that greeted the M. A. 
F.G., as he capered briskl}^ about, brushing the coals 
and ashes from his broad back, and belabored by his 
friends, who were assisting him in saving his coat. 

" Tausendteufels ! vot for a shbree !" And the Herr 
sank exhausted upon the piano-stool.* 



CHAPTEE XXXII. 

"Christmas gift! young ladies, Christmas gift!" 
chirped Aunt Phoebe, bustling briskly, in her resplend- 
ent bandanna, into the room, and courtesying and 
bowing, and bowing and courtesying in turn, to the 
two fiiir heads that lay deep-nestled in their pillows. 

"Christmas gift!" modestly echoed the handmaiden 
Milly, her sable daughter, modestly bringing up the 
rear and showing all her ivories. 

I don't think the relations between Virginia master 
and Virginia slave ever appeared in a gentler or more 
attractive aspect than on Christmas mornings. The 
way the older and more privileged domestics had of 
bursting into your room at the most unearthly hour, 
shouting "Christmas gift! Christmas gift!' beaming 
with smiles and brimful of good nature, was enough to 
warm the heart of a Cimon. 

" Well, Aunt Phoebe," said one of the drowsy beauties, 
" you have caught us." 

" Gracious, is^ it daybreak yet ?" j-awned hazel-eyed 
Alice. " I am s-o-o-o sleepy !" And turning over in 



*It will doubtless surprise the reader to be informed that this whole 
scene actually occurred, substantially as I have described it, — even the 
last seemingly extravagant detail having been witnessed, not invented, 
by the author. 

18 



206 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

bed with a toss, she closed her eyes and pouted as 
though she had much to endure. 

" Daybreak ? Daybreak ? Why, Lor', chile, ain't Polly 
done put on her bread to bake ? Git up, git up, you 
lazy things ! Don't you know all de beaux is up and 
dressed, and a-settin' round, 'most a-dyin' for to see 
you?" 

" Poor things, are they ?" mumbled Alice against her 
pillow. 

" To-be-sho, to-be-sho dey is," reiterated Aunt Phoebe ; 
though, as a veracious historian, I must let the reader 
know that it was a pious fraud on the old lady's part, 
inspired by solicitude for the reputation of the Elming- 
ton breakfast; for not one of the sinners had stirred. 

"I believe," added Aunt Phoebe, observing that 
Mary's eyes were open, — " I believe," said she, going up 
to Alice and looking down upon her with an admiring 
smile, " dat dis is de sleepyheadedest one of 'em all." 

Alice gave a little grunt, if the expression be parlia- 
mentary. 

"Makin' 'ten' she 'sleep now," said Aunt Phoebe, 
casting knowing nods and winks at Mary. 

" When she is awake. Aunt Phoebe, she is wide enough 
awake for you, isn't she?" 

"Lor' bless you, honey, I b'lieve you ; she cert'n'y do 
beat all." And the floor trembled beneath the good 
old soul's adipose chuckle. " She is a pretty chile, too, 
she is mum," continued the old lady, assuming, with 
her arms akimbo, a critical attitude. Mary rose on her 
elbow to observe Alice's countenance. Her lips began 
to twitch, slightly, under this double gaze. 

" And I ain't de onliest one as thinks so, neither," 
added she, tossing back her head with a look of tri- 
umphant sagacit3^ 

" Who is it ? who is it ?" And Mary rose and sat up 
in bed. 

" Nebber mind, nebber mind !" replied she, with 
diplomatic reserve. "Nebber mind ; Phoebe ain't been 
livin' in this world so long for nothin'. De ole nigger 
got eyes in her head, and she can see out'n 'em, too ; 
you b'lieve she can, my honeys." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 207 

" Oh, do tell me, that's a good Aunt Phoebe !" 

" Though she ain't got no specs on her nose." And 
the good soul threw herself back and gave vent to a 
YQYj audible h'yah, h'yah, h'yah. 

"Is — it — Uncle — Tom?" droned out Alice, in an 
almost inarticulate murmur. 

"Nowjess listen at dat chile! Ole marster! She 
know better! She know who 'tis I'se 'spressin' 'bout 
f all she a-layin' d'yar squinched up in dat bed, making 
out she 'sleep. D'j'ar now, what 1 tell you !" exclaimed 
she, as Alice sprang suddenly up in bed, her eyes spark- 
ling, her color high, her dishevelled hair in a golden 
foam about her temples. 

"'Sleep, was she! h'yah, h'yah, h'yah! Well, to-be- 
sho, talk 'bout de young gent'men cert'n'y were de 
wakinest-up talk for a young lady dat eber dis ole nig- 
ger did see. To-be-sho ! To-be-sho ! Lord a' mussy !" 
added she, rocking to and fro and clapping on her 
knees with both hands, as Alice, with a light bound, 
sprang into the middle of the floor. " Ef I didn't fotch 
her clean out o' bed !" And the hilarious old domestic 
wiped the tears from her eyes with a corner of her 
check apron. "Well, now, and what is she up to?" 
added she, as Alice ran nimbly across the room and 
opened a closet. 

"Aunt Phoebe," said Alice, advancing with all the 
solemnity of a presentation orator, " permit me to offer 
you, as a slight testimonial of my unbounded esteem, 
this trivial memento. Within this package is a dress, 
selected especially for you with the greatest care, at the 
most fashionable store in Eichmond. Wear it, and rest 
assured that the dress will not become you more than 
you will become the dress." And after executing, with 
her tiny little feet, a variety of droll capers, all the 
while maintaining a look of preternatural solemnity, she 
placed the package in the arms of the amazed Phoebe, 
with a tragic extension of her right arm, immediately 
thereafter dropping one of the most elaborately gro- 
tesque courtesies ever seen ofl" the comic stage. 

" Lord a' mussy, what kind o' funny lingo is — " 

Squeak! squeak! Bang! bang! And two girls, 



208 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

but partially dressed, tumbled tumultuonsly into the 
room, shrieking and slamming the door after them. 

The chemists tell us that if you separate two gases 
by a membrane, they will insist upon mingling; and, 
•not knowing why this takes place, they have christened 
the process endosmose and exosmose. Sociology fur- 
nishes a noteworthy parallelism in the endosmose and 
exosmose of girls dressing for breakfast in a country 
house. You may stow as many as you will into as 
many rooms as you choose, but every one of them 
will find her way into every other room before her 
toilet is complete ; and, by the end of a week, the rai- 
ment of each will be impartially distributed throughout 
the several chambers allotted to their sex. Their 
movements on these occasions are peculiar. " Where 
is that other stocking of mine? Oh, I know!" And 
she approaches the door of her room, opens it a couple 
of inches, and warily reconnoitres with eye and ear. 
Seizing an opportune moment when the coast is clear, 
she darts like a meteor across the hall, and into a 
neighboring room — 

" I say, girls, have any of you seen a stray stock- 
ing?" etc., etc. 

And so, upon the present occasion, a pair of beauties 
unadorned came bounding into the room, breaking in 
upon Alice's impromptu tableau. This, however, they 
had not time to remark; but wheeling round, as soon 
as they were safe within the door, they opened it an 
inch or two, stuck their several noses into the opening, 
and uttered to some person in the hall a few words of 
saucy triumph. Mr. Whacker had, in fact, stepped into 
the hall just as they were crossing it ; and, seeing them, 
had given chase. Having made a few mocking faces 
at the old gentleman, and shut the door with another 
slam and another pair of pretty shrieks when he made 
as though he would follow them, they turned to their 
friends. 

" Did you hear it, girls ?" began one of the intruders. 

" Hear what ?" 

" The music." 

" The music ? What music ?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 209 

" What! did you, too, sleep through it all?" 

" AVhat ! was there a serenade, and you did not 
wake us? It was reall}^ mean of you!" 

If ouch is masculine, really mean is feminine. 

"Bless you, we heard never a note of it ourselves!" 

"A note of what? Who heard it, and what was 
there to hear? What enigma is this?" 

'' Why, hasn't Aunt Phcebe told you?" 

" Told us what ? What is there to tell. Aunt Phcebe, 
and why have you not told us already?" 

"Bless your sweet souls un you, I ain't had time," 
said old Phoebe, bowing and courtesyingall round ; while 
Milly grinned ungainly in her wake. 

"You see, I jess stepped in on dese two young 
ladies fust, and cotched 'em Christmas gift, and very 
nice presents they had, all read}' and awaitin' for ole 
Phoebe," — and she courtesied to each, — "and for Milh", 
too, bless their sweet souls un 'em, jess like dey knowed 
Phoebe was a-comin' to cotch 'em, — bless de pretty little 
honeys ! — and so says I, says I to myself, says I, I'll 
jess step in and catch dese two fust ; and so, I creeps 
lip to de door, I did, soft as a cat, I did, and turns (\q 
knob, easy-like, and I flings open de door and ' Christ- 
mas gift' says I, jess so, says I, and dey had de most 
loveliest presents all wrapped up and a-waiting for 
Phoebe, jess as I tell you, and for Milly too, and I 
dun no what Milly gwine do wid all de things she done 
got, and dey is all nice and one ain't no prettier dan de 
others, and Phoebe is uncommon obleeged to one and 
all," — and she gave a duck in front of each, — "and 
Milly^ too. Gal, what you a-standin' dere for, wid 3'our 
fin<^8 in your mouth, like somebody ain't got no sense ? 
Ain't you gwine to make no motion ? Is dat de way I 
done fotch you up, and 3'ou b'long to de quality, too? 
Dese 3'oung niggers is too much — too much for Phoebe !" 

It would be going too far, perhaps, to say that Milly 
blushed ; but she managed to look abashed, and con- 
trived to appease her mother by sundry uncouth wrig- 
glings, meant to express her thanks. 

" Howsomedever, as I was sayin', year in and year 
out ole marster have had a heap o' young ladies 
18^ 



210 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

a-spendin' Christmas at Elmin'ton, — fust one Christ- 
mas and den another; but of ever Phoebe saw more 
lovelier — " 

"Oh, Aunt Phoebe!" 

" Fo' de Lord, I hope de crabs may eat me ef tain't 
so, jess as I tell you. Why, Lor' bless my soul, ain't I 
hear all the young gent'men say de same ?" [general 
satisfaction.] "On course I has! I wish I may drop 
dead if I don't b'lieve ole marster must a' picked Rich- 
mond over pretty close." 

The merriment elicited by this remark gave such 
pause to the old lady's eloquence that Alice was enabled 
to put in a word. 

" But, Aunt Phoebe, tell me about the serenade?" 

Phoebe looked puzzled. 

" Tell us about the gentlemen's serenade last night?" 

" Lor', chile, ole marster don't have none o' dem high- 
fangled Richmond doin's 'bout him ; thar warn't nothin' 
but apple-toddy and eggnog." 

"But the music, Aunt Phoebe?" persisted Alice, re- 
pressing a smile. 

"De music!" ejaculated Phoebe ; "de music! Didn't 
you hear it through de window? You didn't?" And 
she clasped her hands, shut her eyes, and began rock- 
ing to and fro, her head nodding all the while with cer- 
tain peculiar little jerks, "Umgh-umgh! — uragh-umgh! 
— umgh-umgh!" This inexplicable dumb-show she kept 
up some time. " Don't talk, chillun ; don't talk — umgh- 
umgh ! — don't talk, — 1 axed Dick dis mornin', says I, 
Dick, says I, huckum, ^^ou reckon, nobody never told 
ole marster as how Mr. Smith drawed sich a bow, says 
I?" 

"Mr. Smith r exclaimed Alice, looking at the two 
girls with amazement in her wide eyes. 

The two girls nodded. 

"Yes, Mr. Smith was de very one. Phoebe never 
did hear de like, never in her born days. Sich a 
scrapin' and a scratchin', and sich a runnin' up and 
down a fiddle, Phoebe never did see, though she thought 
she had seen fiddlers in her time." 

And she went on and gave such an account of the 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 211 

performance as you would not find in any musical jour- 
nal. What did she know, poor soul, about technique, 
for example, — or breadth of phrasing, for the matter 
of that ? 

"ilir. Smith r reiterated Alice, with stark incre- 
dulity. 

*' I)at was de very one I" 

Alice looked from one to another of the girls. 

" Did you ever !" looked they in turn. 

" I thought I should a' died a-laughin' at young Marse 
Billy Jones. When I seed him and all dem young 
gent'men a-scufflin' and a-bumpin' under dat table, oh, 
Lord, says I, how long! But when Marse Ealeigh, he 
iipsot into de fire, thinks I to myself, my legs surely is 
gwine for to gin way under me! — but Marse Charley, 
he cert'n'y do beat all. I reckon all you young mis- 
tisses was a-thinkin' he had done gone and cut he fin- 
ger Avhen he let de knife fall and went for a rag? I 
be bound you did ; but Lor' me, nobody don't never 
know what Marse Charley is up to. Ley tell me as 
how he knowed all along 'bout Mr. Smith playin' on 
de fiddle ; but he never let on even to ole marster ; and 
I heard 'em all a-questionin' him 'bout it; but Marse 
Charley, he jess laugh and laugh, sort o' easy-like, and 
never tell 'em nothin'." 

"Mr. Frobisher knew what a great musician Mr. 
Smith was?" asked Alice, her incredulity beginning to 
give way. 

"Jess so. Miss Alice, jess so. Why, Dick says he 
really do b'lieve into he soul dat Mr. Smith b'longs to a 
show or somethin' or other; and what Dick don'tknow 
'bout dem kind o' mysteries ain't worth knowin'. Why, 
didn't Dick drive de carriage down to Yorktown when 
dey give de dinner to Ginrul Laughyet, and hear de 
brass band play and all ? Great musicianer ? I b'lieve 
you! Umgh-umgh! To-be-sho! To-be-sho!" 

" Well!" said Alice, dropping down into a chair with 
a bump. " VV^ell !" repeated she, with emphasis. 
" W^hy, what is the matter?" 

"Never mind!" said she, tossing her head as she 
pulled on a stocking. " I'll make him pay for it !" she 



212 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

added, jerking on the other with a rather superfluous 
vigor; and then, discontinuing her toilet, she dropped 
her two hands upon her knees and gazed at vacancy 
for a moment. 

" What is it? What is it?" cried the girls, as they 
saw, gradually diffusing itself over her flushed counte- 
nance, an intensely quizzical smile. For her only 
answer Alice threw herself into an exceedingly comic 
attitude of exaggerated stiftness, and began playing 
upon an imaginary piano, tum-tumming, in the most 
ludicrous wa}', a commonplace air much in vogue at 
the time. 

" Oh, what geese we have made of ourselves!" cried 
the girls. 

" Yes," continued Alice, " here have we, all this time, 
been playing our little jiggettj^-jigs before him, and 
he affecting not to know Yankee Doodle from Hail 
Columbia!" And she tossed off a few more bars with 
inimitable drollery. "Oh, it is too funny!" cried she, 
springing up, her sense of humor overriding her sense 
of chagrin ; and from that time till the party were 
ready to descend to the breakfast-room, she was in one 
of her regular gales, causing the upper regions of the 
house to resound with incessant peals of laughter. 

" Why, you dear, craz}^ little goose," said one of the 
girls at last, " the breakfast-bell rang fifteen minutes 
ago, and all the rest of us are dressed, and there you 
are still in a most unpresentable costume." 

" There, then, I'll be good," said Alice, cutting short 
some caper; and instantly assuming the busiest air, she 
trotted briskly about the room, lajing hands first on 
one article of dress and then on another, contriving, 
somehow, to combine with a maximum of ostenta- 
tious activity a minimum of actual progress in her 
toilet. 

"Here, girls," said Mary, "I'll hold her while the 
rest of you dress her." 

So saying, she seized her, and in a moment the sub- 
missive victim was surrounded by as lovely a band of 
lady's maids as one could wish to see. First one 
brought her — but, somehow, there seems to arise like 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 213 

an exhalation, just here, a mysterious haze, impene- 
trable to my bachelor eyes. 

" There now, girls, you need not wait for me. I 
shall be down in a moment. Gro down. No, I won't 
have you wait for me ! Aunt Phoebe will never forgive 
you if you let the muffins get cold. Moreover, I wish 
to add to my toilet, in private, a few killing touches, 
of which I alone possess the secret. Maidens, retire!" 
And with outstretched, dimpled arm, she pointed to the 
door. Thus dismissed, they soon found their way to 
the breakfast-table ; and, as was to be expected, there 
immediately arose a ver}^ animated talk upon the events 
of the preceding evening. 

A Virginia breakfast, in those days, was not wont to 
be a lugubrious affair; but I think that this was, per- 
haps, the brightest that I remember. The events of 
the previous evening were told and retold for the 
benefit of the ladies. Young Jones was invited to de- 
scribe the emotions which caused him to dive under the 
table, the middle-aged fat gentleman got what s^^m- 
pathy was his due, when, just as each girl had, for the 
twentieth time, exclaimed that it was "really mean," 
Alice stood upon the threshold. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

No one had heard her approaching footsteps. The 
charming little actress stood there, her arms akimbo, 
her head tossed back, her eyes fixed upon the Don with 
the blackest look she could command. To the saluta- 
tions of the company, to m}' grandfather's request that 
she be seated, she deigned no replj' ; and suddenly 
whisking herself to the side of the table, she poured in 
upon the Don a still more deadly fusillade of fierce 
glances at short range; then, as the only unoccupied 
seat was next his, she advanced to take it, but in the 
twinkling of an eye her whole manner had changed, 
though why it changed I cannot explain, nor she any 



214 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

more than I, doubtless. I record facts, merely. As 
she went mincing around the table to reach her seat, 
she suddenly became converted into a prim and ab- 
surdly affected old maid. Her manner of shaking out 
her napkin would have been alone sufficient to convulse 
the company. In fact, for a time, all breal\fasting, con- 
sidered as a practical business, came to an end. The 
very streams of hot muffins, waffles, and buckwheat 
cakes stood still, in presence of this joyous spirit, as of 
old the river forgot to flow when Orpheus touched his 
lyre. I can see her now, it seems to me, nibbling at 
the merest crumb upon a prong of her fork, sipping 
her coffee with dainty affectation, ogling the gentlemen 
with inimitable drollery. 

"Ah, Mr. Smith," said she, suddenly turning to the 
Don and dropping the role she had assumed for one of 
the most artless simplicity, — " I am so delighted to hear 
that you are a musician. Do you know, I had an idea 
that you knew little of music, and cared less; so that 
— do you know? — we girls actually feared that our 
playing bored you? Indeed we did!" she added, with 
emphasis, and looking up into his face with an ingenu- 
ous smile. "Didn't we, girls? But it is such a nice 
surprise to find you were only pretending to be an igno- 
ramus. Why, it was only yesterday morning that I 
was explaining to you the difference between the major 
and the minor kej's! — and you knew all the time!" 
And she gave a delicious, childish little laugh. "It is 
such a comfort to know that you have been appreci- 
ating our music all this time. Oh, Mr. Smith !" ex- 
claimed she, infantile glee dancing in her hazel eyes, 
"I have one piece that I have never played for you. 
I'll play it immediately after breakfast. It is called — let 
me see — " And with eyes upturned and fingers wan- 
dering up and down the table, she seemed to search for 
the title of the composition. " Oh !" cried she, gush- 
inglj', and throwing herself forward in front of the Don, 
and turning her head so as to pour her joyous smile 
straight into his ej^es, — "oh, it is called the Jenny 
Lind Polka ;" and she beamed upon our artist as though 
awaiting an answering thrill. " JVhat ! You never 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 215 

heard it ? JVo f" (strnmming on the table.) " Tump-eel 
Jenny tump-ee! Lind polka? Tump-ee, tump-ee, 
tump-ee, teedle-ee — possible?" (with a look of intense 
surprise). "Tump-ee, teedle-ee, tump-ee, teedle-ee — 
Ko? W-h-}', g-i-r-1-s ! Second part : Teedum, tcc<lle- 
um, te^-dum, teedle-um — you don't — teedum teedle-um 
— recognize it? Tee-dum, teedle-um turn, tum, turn — 
You are quite sure? Tump-ee, tump-ee — Quite? You 
shall have it immediately after breakfast — tump-ee, 
tump-ee." And apparently unable to restrain her im- 
patience, she recommenced the strain, and rattled it oif 
with an ever-increasing brio, till, at last, as though 
transported with enthusiasm, she pushed back her chair 
and launched forth into upas sew?, .tripping round the 
table, her dress spread out with thumb and forefinger 
of either hand, the graceful swaying of her lithe figure 
contrasting comically with the tin-pan tone she con- 
trived to give her voice, and the ludicrous precision of 
her steps ; but, changeful as the surface of a summer 
lake, she had hardly made the circuit of the table once, 
when she laid her dimpled cheek upon her rosy fingers, 
her rosy fingers interlaced upon the shoulder of an im- 
aginary partner, and stilling her own voice, and as 
though drunk Avith the music of a mighty orchestra, 
she floated about the room, with closed eyes, in a kind 
of swoon. 

Just at this juncture, there chanced to be standing 
near the outer dining-room door our friend Zip. Zip — 
but, as these w^ere Christmas times, let us call him 
Moses — stood there, with hanging jaw, and rolling his 
rather popped eyes, first towards his chief, and then in 
the direction of the table, in manifest perplexity as to 
the disposition to be made of a plate of wafl3.es he had 
just brought from the kitchen. Confused by the mer- 
riment, he failed to observe the fair Alice bearing down 
upon him. Awa}'' went the waflies over the floor. 
" That's the way it goes!" said Alice to the Don, with- 
out even a glance at the waffles ; " and you have never 
beard it before ?" asked she, resuming her seat by his 
side. In fact, the most amusing feature of her entire 
performance w^as how utterly unconscious she seemed 



216 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

that any one heard or saw her save the new-found 
artist. Every word, every look, every gesture seemed 
designed solelj' for his edification. I shall not permit 
m^'self to describe the deportment of the company 
while Alice was on her high horse; for Lord Chester- 
field has pronounced laughter, save in children, vulgar. 
And so, I shall declare breakfast over, and allow our 
merry friends to betake themselves whither fancy 
impels. 

" What kind of a day is it?" inquires one; and the 
whole party soon find themselves scattered in groups 
on the southern veranda. 

It was one of those enchantingly beautiful winter 
mornings, never witnessed, perhaps, out of America. 
The ground was frozen hard ; while every tuft of dry 
grass, every twig in view, bedecked with hoar-frost, 
danced and flashed and sparkled beneai^h the dazzling 
yet haz}^ sunlight, with the mingled glow of opals and 
of diamonds. And what an atmosphere! Still, but 
not stagnant ; for behold the dreamy undulations of 
that slender column of smoke, so peacefully rocking 
above yonder whitewashed cabin ! Cold, not chill ; 
descending into the lungs as a stimulating and refresh- 
ing bath ; clear, but not colorless; tinted, rather, — nay, 
transfigured, with the translucent exhalations of name- 
less gems, — such was the air that floated over lavvn and 
river on that bright Christmas morning. 

It was a day too fine to be lost ; and a vote being 
taken, it was decided that a walk should come first. 
And forth the joyous procession sallied, Alice and young 
Jones — kindred spirits — taking the lead. Let them go 
their way, rejoicing in their youth; and, while await- 
ing their return, I shall, with the consent of the con- 
temporaneous reader, say a word or two about Virginia 
society, as it was, to that reader of the future for whose 
edification these slight sketches are drawn; to wit, my 
great-great-great-etc. grandson. 

In my Alice, then, I have endeavored to place before 
you and future generations a type taken bodily from 
the joyous, careless life of ante-bellum days. Many of 
my contemporaries will recognize her and her merry- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 217 

glancing hazel eyes. My friends — all Eiehmond, all 
Virginia, in fact — will know the original of the picture, — 
each one his own original. But the truth is, in paint- 
ing the portrait of our jolly little Alice I have aimed 
at more than representing the features of a charming 
girl. I have striven to place before you a marked 
i:>hase of Virginia society, — its freedom. It was this 
which gave it a charm all its own, and it would be in- 
teresting, did it not lead me too far from the path of 
my narrative, to point out the contrasts it affords to 
English society. Both eminently aristocratic, it is sin- 
gular that the former should have been so unshackled, 
so unconventional, so free, while its prototype is, with- 
out doubt, the most uncomfortable, the most stifling 
tyranny that men and women — and men and women, 
too, of one of the grandest races of all time — ever vol- 
untarily submitted to. And, strangely enough, Vir- 
ginia is almost the only one of the United States where 
anything like a fair type of the mother society has sur- 
vived. The English gentleman, like the Virginian, has 
his home in the country ; but this is true, in this coun- 
try it may almost be said, of Virginia gentlemen alone ; 
if, at least, the terms be not understood in a sense too 
literally geographical. The Southern planter was wont 
to betake himself to ISTew Orleans in winter, with half 
his cotton crop in his pocket, reserving the other 
half for Saratoga and the ITorth when summer came. 
Charleston was the Mecca of the South Carolinian ; 
while the wealthy citizen of ISTew York, if he had his 
villa on the Hudson, retired to it rather to avoid than 
to seek society, or else, still unsated with the joys of 
city life (the detestation of your true John Bull), even 
when driven out of town by the dust of summer and the 
glare of wall and of pavement, he hastens to Newport, 
there to swelter through the dog-da3^s in all the pomp 
of full dress and fashionable fooleries. Some stray lord 
has mentioned in his hearing — or some one who has 
seen a stray lord — that summer is the London season 
(none other being possible in that climate), and straight- 
way he trims his whiskers a la mutton-chop and buys 
a book of the peerage; nor suspects that the more 
K 19 



218 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

closel}^ you imitate an Englishman the less you re- 
semble him, — one of the strongest characteristics of 
that great race being their disdainful refusal to imitate 
any other. " 



CHAPTEK XXXiy. 

Three o'clock was, in those days, the dinner-hour 
of the Yirginia gentry ; but my grandfather and 
Charley, being but two in family, and not caring to be 
bothered with three meals a day, had gotten into the 
habit of dining at five ; and so, shortly before that 
hour, on this Christmas day, all the company, having 
made their toilets, had assembled in the drawing room. 
But, as far back as I can remember, T don't think that 
Aunt Polly had ever let us have our Christmas dinner 
before six. Aunt Polly could never explain this fact 
to our satisfaction. " Eeady," she once made reply to 
my boyish impatience, " no, dat tain't, How you gwine 
'spect de fire to cook all dese things quick like a few 
things? Jess look at dat pot! I set it d'yar to bile 
and d'yar it sets a-simperin' and a-simperin' like people 
never did want to eat nothin'." 

" In course," broke in old Dick, with stately pro- 
fundity, "a rolling stone never gathers no moss." 

" Git out o' ray way, Dick, and lemme lift de led off 
dat d'yar skillet. Moss! Moss! Who talkin' 'bout 
moss, I'd like to know ? And all de white folks a-waitin' 
for dinner!" And she mopped her face with her 
sleeve. 

"I meant to rubserve," rejoined Dick, with offended 
dignity, "dat a watched pot never biles." 

"On the present occasion Mrs. Carter gave the com- 
pany an intimation that they had an hour on their 
hands. 

"Why not adjourn to the hall," suggested Mr. 
Whacker, "and while away the time with some 
music ?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 219 

The company rose with enthusiasm. *' Oh, how 
nice!" And all the girls clapped their hands. 

"Mr. Frobisher," said Jones, dryly, " if your finger 
be sufficiently healed, suppose you lead off. As for me 
— I — have a sore throat." 

"Ah, that poor finger!" cried Alice, "how remiss 
in us girls not to have inquired after its health! IIow 
is the dear little thing?" 

"I beg your pardon?" inquired Charley, with an 
innocent look ; but his hands had somehow found their 
way behind his back. 

" How is your cut finger?" 

"My cut finger?" 

"Yes, y-o-u-r c-u-t f-i-n-g-e-r!" 

" M-y c-u-t f-i-n-g-e-r ?" And he mimicked her im- 
perious little gestures; at the same time looking from 
face to face with a sort of dazed air. 

"Isn't this a sort of conundrum?" 

"No; show me your hand." 

" There," said he, holding out his right hand, — " there 
is my hand, — you may h-h-h-h-ave it if you want it." 
And immediately, as though he had said more than he 
had intended, blushed to the roots of his hair. 

"Nonsense!" said she, coloring slightly. "Why do 
you tantalize people so? The other!" 

" The other? There they are, both of them." 

"But which is the finger that you cut?" 

"Who said I c-c-c-ut my finger?" 

"Do you mean to say — " began Jones; but shouts 
of laughter interrupted his question, and, turning to 
a group of students, he pursed up his mouth and emitted 
a long but inaudible whistle. Charley, meanwhile, was 
assailed with questions by the girls as to what made 
him suspect that the Don was a musician ; but he 
passed, smiling and silent, towards the western door, 
and he stood there bowing the ladies out on their way 
to the Hall. 

"Fiend in human shape!" breathed Alice, as she 
passed out, threatening him with upraised forefinger. 

" Do you really think so ?" asked he, in a hurried, 
half-choking whisper, — the idiot! 



220 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

The enchantress stopped, and slowly turning her 
head, as she stood with one foot upon the pavement 
and the other on the step above, turning her head, all 
gilded and glorious with the mellow rays of the setting 
sun, gave him one Parthian glance, half saucy, half 
serious, and bounded forward to overtake her compan- 
ions. Charley, with his eyes riveted upon her retiring 
figure, stood motionless till she had disappeared within 
the Hall. Did he hope — the simpleton — for another look? 

The Don and I were lingering on the Hall steps when 
Charley came up. 

" By the way, how on earth did you divine that I 
plaved on the violin ? You have no objection to telling 
me>' 

" None in the world. There was no divination about 
the matter. When you were knocked senseless by the 
runaway horses, I helped to undress you. On remov- 
ing your coat a paper fell out of the breast-pocket, and 
I remarked, on picking it up, that it was a sheet of 
manuscript music." 

" Oh yes, I remember, — a little waltz that I bad 
composed that day." 

" I didn't know who had compo-po-po-sed it," re- 
plied Charley, dryly, " but I have m-m-m-ade it a rule 
all m-m-m}^ life never to play before people who went 
about the country, getting run over, with m-m-m-anu- 
script m-m-m-u-sic in their pockets." 

"And you would seem," added the Don, smiling, 
" never to have mentioned your suspicions ?" 

" Not to me, certainl}^" said 1. 

" Not to you, nor to Uncle Tom ; not even to Jones." 

"Not even to Jones!" repeated the Don, laughing 
heartily. " Thanks," added he, suddenly seizing 
Charley's hand, — " thanks." And he sprang lightly into 
the room. 

" Charley, you are a rare one. The idea of your not 
letting the old man or myself into the secret." 

" W-e-l-l, y-e-s," said he, abstractedly. He seemed in 
no hurry to enter the room, holding me back by a firm 
though unconscious grasp upon my arm. " I say, 
Jack," said he, in a confidential tone. And he stopped. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 221 

"Well?" 

"Isn't she a stunner?" And he nodded towards a 
group of girls who stood about the piano. 
"Which one?" 
He dug me in the ribs and passed into the Hall. 



CHAPTEE XXXY. 

With the assembling of our friends in the Hall on 
that Christmas afternoon our story enters upon a new 
phase, — one, too, in which Mary Eolfe will figure more 
prominently than she has hitherto done. Of her friend 
Alice — Alice with the merry-glancing hazel eyes — the 
reader has, I trust, a tolerably clear conception. The 
picture we have of her is a pleasant one, I think, — a 
picture drawn not by me, but by herself. But from 
Mary — shy, reserved, and shrinking as she is — we can 
expect no such boon. Her portrait must be my work. 

And first, I must repeat that she was Alice's closest 
friend. When their acquaintance began, it would be 
hard to say. Their mothers before them were warm 
friends, and had been so fortunate as to have their 
homes, after marriage, separated only by one of Eich- 
mond's peaceful streets ; so that, even in long clothes, 
Alice and Mary, introduced by their respective nurses, 
had contracted such intimacy as might be gained by 
a reciprocal fumbling of each other's noses and the 
poking of pink fingers into blinking eyes. Across this 
street, a few years later, these little crafts had made 
voyages innumerable; beneath its branching trees 
trundled their unsteady hoops, and along its not very 
crowded sidewalk had swung proudl}", hand in hand, 
one bright October day, going to their first school. And 
ever since that day they have been going, so to speak, 
hand in hand. One circumstance, no doubt, that con- 
tributed much to binding their hearts together, was the 
fact that they were onlj^ daughters ; so that each was, 
as it were the adopted sister of the other. But what, 

19* 



222 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

above all things, as I have suggested elsewhere, ren- 
dered a warm friendship between them both possible 
and lasting, was the singularly sharp contrasts presented 
by their characters. Two girls more radically unlike 
in disposition it would be hardly possible to find. 

l^ow, among other traits of Mary's character, to- 
tally lacking in Alice, was one of importance for my 
purposes, in that it was destined to make her play a 
considerable role amid the scenes to be pictured in the 
ensuing pages. It was a trait that goes by different 
names. According to some of her acquaintance, — kin- 
dred spirits they were, — Mary was full of enthusiasms, 
while to others of the hard-headed, practical type, she 
seemed sentimental. I, as umpire, must compromise 
by admitting that she was certainly what is called 
romantic. And I was about to bring in a little cheap 
philosophy to explain that this was due to the vast 
amount of novels and poetry with which she had 
stuffed her head, when I recalled the fact that some 
of the most clear-headed, energetic, and every way 
admirable women that I have known devoured every 
novel that they could lay their hands on. I, therefore, 
abandon the reflection, uncopyrighted, to such moral- 
izers and others as have leisure to explain things of 
which they know nothing. But the fact was as I have 
stated it ; Mary was a thoroughly romantic, or, if you 
will, sentimental young person, though I regret to 
have to say so. For it will lower her in your estima- 
tion, I fear, when I make known to you, by a few 
illustrations, what I mean by saying she was romantic. 

It is more necessary for me to do this than would 
appear to the average contemporar}" reader. For it is 
more than likely that the expression, a romantic young 
female, will be totally unintelligible in 5^our day, or, 
rather, that it will have an entirely different meaning 
from that which those words convey to us. You, too, 
of course, will not be without your romantic virgins, — 
that is to say, maidens of tender years, who, standing 
upon the hither brink of that dark and troublous sea 
called life, and watching the pitching and tossing of 
the numberless barks that have gone before, — who, see- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 223 

ing some struggling amid the breakers, others going to 
pieces on the reefs, still others drifting, dismantled 
and shattered, upon a shore already thick-strewn with 
wrecks, — yet love to dream of smooth and sunny paths 
across that pitiless waste of waters, — if— if only the 
Ideal Pilot may be found. 

Yes,yourgirls will have their ideals, — but what ideals? 

I cannot tell; but very different, doubtless, from 
ours. We have but to glance at here a page and there 
a page of the past records of the race, to feel quite 
sure that woman's ideal man has varied much in the 
tide of time. Passing by prehistoric man, lest I 
wound the susceptibilities of such as claim that he 
never existed, and coming forward to the daj^s of 
Homer, we must suppose that the sentimental daugh- 
ters of the literary gentlemen of that day — the chiefs, 
to wit, who patronized the blind bard — for rhapsody 
divine bartering the prosaic but sustaining bacon — we 
must reckon it as probable that these young women 
yearned — if yearning were in vogue at that early 
period — yearned to be led from the parental roof by 
some Achilles of a youth, tall, broad-chested, agile as a 
panther, strong as a lion, with thews of steel, soul of 
adamant, eye of consuming fire. Juvenal, again, if we 
may pluck a leaf at random, tells us that, in his day, a 
sentimental married woman who would shriek at a 
mouse, let us say, was capable of braving the sea in 
a leaky old hulk, eloping with all that was left of a 
gladiator after twenty years' hacking in the arena. 
And now, making a spring forward into the last quar- 
ter of the nineteenth centurj^, we find the ideal of the 
upper ten dozen of New York society, for example, to 
be a nice young man who parts his hair and his name 
in the middle, leads in the "german"* and gets all his 
" things"t in London. [And this sufficed till but re- 
cently. Of late, however, as I read in the papers, the 
best society of New York has grown more exacting, 
and no one need now aspire to be looked upon as a 
lion — a knight without fear and without reproach — 

* Dance of the period. t Clothes. 



224 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

unless, after devoting for some years half his time and 
all his mind, as it were, to the art, he can " handle the 
reins" well enough to pass for a real stage-driver. The 
'bus-drivers themselves, however, whimsically enough, 
are not held in half the estimation of their imitators 
and rivals (just as mock-turtle soup is deemed by many 
superior to the genuine decoction). They may actually 
be hired at two dollars a day, more or less, and seem 
positively glad to get that, being to all outward seem- 
ing entirely unconscious of the glamour attaching to 
their ennobling art.]* 

But to judge by the books they devoured with such 
eagerness, and the heroes they thought so captivating, 
the ideals, thirty years ago, of the Virginia young 
women — I may not speak for others — were very differ- 
ent from any of those above depicted. At that period the 
influence of Byron's powerful genius was still plainly 
discernible in many works of fiction, especially those 
by female authors. Now, just ascertain cordials lose 
all their piquancy by being diluted, so the morbid crea- 
tions of Byron's unhealthy muse emerged, after passing 
through the alembic of female fancy, very pale heroes 
indeed ; pale, in truth, in a double sense. For, at one 
time, I remember, a bloodless countenance was about 
all that was required to constitute a hero over whom 
all our girls went mad. The fellow was invariably dis- 
mally cold and impassive " in outward seeming ;" but 
the authoress would contrive to suggest to the reader, 
by a hint here and there, that this coldness was in out- 
ward seeming only, — that this stern, haughty possessor 
of the broad, pallid brow (against which he ever and 
anon pressed his hand as though in pain) was the 
clandestine owner of feelings fit to be compared only to 
a stream of lava, — a cold crust above, concealing a fiery 
flood beneath ; an iceberg, in a word, with a volcano 
in its bosom. There are no such icebergs, I believe, 
and it is equally certain that there are no such men ; 
and I used to think, in those dfxys, that if there were 

*■ If our fierce Bushwhacker could but witness the annual parade of 
our New York Coaching Club, he would be heartily ashamed of this 
venomous passage. — Ed. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 225 

such, and one of this type were found hanging around 
a girl, the circumstance would afford her big brother's 
boot legitimate occasion for an honorable activity. And 
I still think that this heroic treatment, as the faculty 
would term it, would find its justification, at least from 
a sanitary point of view. For it is to be remarked that 
in romances infested with this form of hero, there was, 
among the heroines, a veritable epidemic of brain-fever ; 
whatever that may be. But the young ladies of my 
acquaintance, assigning jealousy as the source of these 
ferocious sentiments, could not be brought to my way 
of thinking; and of all of a certain bevy of girls with 
whom I associated, I believe that Mary Kolfe was 
furthest gone in her adoration of these august animals 
that dwelt apart. 

Now, although a romantic temperament has its com- 
pensations, — compensations so varied and so valuable 
that, on the whole, it must be regarded as a blessing, — 
yet its dangers are as obvious. For of what avail is an 
Ideal without its Counterpart ? Now, it is in searching 
for and finding this Counterpart that lies the danger 
to a girl of imaginative turn, — the danger, in plain Eng- 
lish, of falling in love without a just and reasonable 
regard for the loaves and fishes of this prosaic world. 

Now, even from the preliminary and partial sketch 
of the Don already made, you will see (though less 
clearly than when the drawings shall have been com- 
pleted and the colors rubbed in) that he was a man 
likely to make a vivid impression on the imagination 
of a girl like Mary. I should be sorry, indeed, to have 
you suppose that such likelihood arose from any re- 
semblance on his part to the type of novel-hero so fasci- 
nating to her imagination. And yet he ap^Dcaled to that 
imagination most strongly. Of course the mystery sur- 
rounding him had much to do with this. Of late she had 
found herself continually asking herself who he could 
be. Was he a Virginian ? Hardly, else some one would 
know him. Then, why had he come to Virginia ? Was 
he an English nobleman, travelling incognito? Per- 
haps! But no I from several observations that he had 
1q^ drop, he could scarcely be that. He was a gentle- 

P 



226 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

man, certainly ; but then, what need has a gentleman 
of mystery? Had he committed any — ? Impossible! 
And so, da capo^ — who can he be? More than once 
she had caught herself stamping her little foot and 
muttering impatiently, "What is he to me?" But his 
image kept returning to her mind. The truth is, she 
was getting what the girls used to call, in those daj^s, 
" interested," — a word which means far more with 
women than with us men. " In love" is what we 
should call it ; but that is an expression which women 
are chary of using, unless of men. According to their 
philosophy, it is tacitly assumed that, as it is not the 
proper thing for a woman to fall in love until she has 
been asked to, she never does ; and I believe this to be 
true, as a rule. In fact, it seems to me that falling in 
love, as it is called, is, with women, a purely voluntary 
act. When entreated to lose their hearts they lose 
them, should it seem judicious, all things considered, so 
to do; if not, not. But as in Latin grammar, so in life: 
there are exceptions to all rules; and while, in nine 
cases out of ten, women are guided by judgment and 
reason, men impelled by passion and instinct, in their 
matrimonial ventures, yet there is, after all, a tenth 
case (all my readers are tenth cases if they will) where 
a woman, deluded by her imagination, wrecks her life 
on breakers that seemed, to others at least, too apparent 
to need a beacon. Nor are the weaker sisters most liable 
to blunders of this kind ; for it seems to me that I have 
remarked that gifted women are most apt to throw 
themselves away on men entirely unworthy of them ; 
led captive by the ideals their own hearts have fash- , 
ioned ; making gods of stocks and stones. 



CHAPTEK XXXYL 

Never, perhaps, was there a merrier Christmas 
party than that which was now laughing and chatter- 
ing as they seated themselves before that noble hickory 
fire which lit up the Hall with its ruddy glow. The 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 227 

pleasantcst thing of all was to see the happy change 
that had come over the Don. He was a different man. 
That air of self-restraint and conscious reserve, which 
had never left him before, had entirely vanished. It 
was evident that, whatever his motives for concealing 
his musical talents, it was an immense relief to him to 
have abandoned the singular role he had been playing; 
and his long-imprisoned feelings had bounded up like 
a released spring. We hardly knew him. He was not 
only unconstrained and cheerful, he was even jolly. 
" I say, old boy," said he, slapping Jones on the shoul- 
der, " 3^ou must not suppose that it was I who laid that 
trap for you yesterday- evening. My playing was 
purely unintentional, — even involuntary. But who 
could have resisted Uncle Tom?" This was the first 
time he had ever called my grandfather by that name. 

"No apologies, no apologies," replied Billy. "Mr. 
Charles Frobisher set that snare for my unwary feet." 

" Not at all," rejoined Charley. " t kept my wary 
feet out of it, that was all." 

"But wasn't it capital!" cried Jones; and showing 
all his massive white teeth, he made the hall resound 
with a laugh that echoed contagiously from group to 
group. 

But there was one person in the room who did not 
share in the general joyousness, — our friend Mary. 
She had taken her stand apart, by a window that com- 
manded the western horizon ; and turning with a half- 
startled air, at the sound of the laughter, responded to 
it with a faint and preoccupied smile. In truth, the 
poor child was ill at case ; though what it was that 
troubled that young heart none of my readers, I feel 
assured, would ever guess. Yet, while to most of them 
the cause of her annoyance will appear whimsical in 
the extreme, as it was characteristic of her to suffer 
from such a cause, I must state it, and towards this end 
a few prefatory words will be necessary. 

Neither the Virginians nor the American people, nor 
any branch of the great race from which they spring, 
are lovers of music. Our boys, it is true, will troop up 
and down the streets of village or city, following the 



228 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

band-wagon of a circus. "We manufacture an enormous 
number of the very best pianos in the world, and thou- 
sands of our girls labor for years learning to play a few 
tunes on them. Mothers without number pinch them- 
selves that their daughters may have the desired in- 
struction. It is the correct thing. Yet, her graduating 
concert over, her piano soon ceases to constitute any 
more considerable element of a girl's happiness, or that 
of her family, than her cop}^ of Euclid. 

Yet, although English of the purest breed, there are 
Virginians who really love music; just as you shall 
find Spaniards with red hair, bashful Irishmen, women 
with beards, hens that crow, bullies with courage, mules 
without guile, and short sermons and true happiness. 
I do not allude to our charming girls who flock to the 
occasional opera that visits Eichinond, — for in Eich- 
mond, as elsewhere, there are dozens of reasons for 
flocking to the opera. 

No ; I had in my mind the far-famed Yirginia fid- 
dler — mock him not, ye profane — who, though frowned 
upon by the moralist, viewed askance from the pulpit, 
without honor as without profit in his own country, 
still scrapes away as merrily as he can under the load 
of obloquy that weighs him down. But his devotion, 
if heroic, Avins him no glory ; for the people of Yir- 
ginia, forgetting, with the usual ingratitude of repub- 
lics, Thomas Jeff^erson and Patrick Henry, regard the 
worthlessness of the whole fiddling tribe as axiomatic. 
Nay, worse, there is a vague feeling that the thing is 
vulgar. 

JSTow, in that word lies the key to Mary Eolfe's dis- 
tress of mind. Born and bred in the midst of that 
singularly pure, and simple, and refined society of Eich- 
mond in the ante-bellum days, inheriting from her 
father a love of all that was most beautiful in English 
prose and verse, as well as led by his hand to the nooks 
w^here were to be culled its choicest flowers ; her man- 
ners formed and her instincts moulded by her mother 
upon the classic types of Yirginia patrician life of the 
olden time, she was more than a representative of her 
class. The refined delicacy of her nature amounted, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 229 

if not to a fault, at least to a misfortune. In the society 
of those like herself she was easy, affable, winning; 
but the slightest deviation from high breeding chilled 
her into silence and unconquerable reserve. The most 
trivial social solecism shocked, vulgarity stunned her. 

And fiddling! 

According to her high-wrought soul the thing was 
unworthy of a gentleman. Nor is this so much to be 
w^ondered at, for, although distinguished violinists had 
visited Richmond, it so happened that she had never 
heard one. Her knowledge of violin music was con- 
fined to fiddling pure and simple,— the compositions, 
jigs and reels; the performers, as a rule, negroes. 

If, then, I have in any measure succeeded in depict- 
ing Mary as she really was, — an exquisitely refined, 
oversensitive girl just out of school, her head full of 
poetry and romance, her heart beginning to flutter with 
a sweet pain in presence of an Ideal Hero, so suddenly, 
so strangely encountered,— my reader (being a woman) 
wnll appreciate the shock she felt on that Christmas 
morning. It will be remembered that it was Aunt 
Phoebe who had been the first to describe the Don's 
l^erformance to the young ladies. 

"Play de fiddle? Can he play de fiddle? I b'lieve 
you, honey ! Why, Lor' bless me, I do p'int'ly b'lieve 
into my soul dat Mr. Smith is de top fiddler of de 
Nunited States!" 

A fiddler ! And a top fiddler ! Shades of Byron and 
of Bulwer! Mary felt an icy numbness at her heart. 

Half an hour afterwards, when the two girls w^ere 
nearly ready for breakfast, she was standing behind 
Alice, pinning on her collar. 

" Oh, Alice," cried the little hypocrite, suddenly, as 
though the thought had but just occurred to her, 
"what charming music we shall have now!" 

*' Oo-ee," cried Alice, shrinking. 

"Ah, did I jDrick your neck ?" 

"Yes; but no matter. Oh, yes, I am just dying to 
hear him play, — and play he shall, or my name is not 
Alice Carter. There you go again! Bear in mind, 
please, that the collar is to be pinned to my dress, not 

20 



230 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

to my lovely person. "What could have induced him to 
hide such an accomplishment!" added she, stamping 
her little foot. 

"There! That sets very nicely! I don't know 
what made me so awkward. So you think it is — 
wait a moment, — ah, that's just right, — an accom- 
plishment?" 

One man in a thousand may acquire somewhat of the 
art, but every woman is born a perfect actress. True, 
you shall not see this perfection on the stage. There 
the ambition of women is to be actresses, rather than 
actresses women. 

It was perfect ! But Alice was not thrown oif the 
scent. 

Men can deceive men ; men may hoodwink women, 
and be hoodwinked in turn ; but it has not been given 
to one woman to throw dust into the eyes of another. 
The silliest girl can see through the most astute as 
though she were of glass. 

" An accomplishment ? "What ? To pin people's col- 
lars to their necks ?" 

" Of course not, goosey ! An accomplishment for 
gentlemen to play on the fid — violin?" 

"Oh!" said Alice, dryly. "Wh}^ of course it is. 
Any art which gives pleasure is an accomplishment." 

" Yes, I know ; but—" 

" Go on." 

" I don't think it is — exactly — oh, I don't know what 
I think about it." 

" But I do," replied Alice, quickly, turning and facing 
her friend. 

" And what do you know that I think, that I do not 
know myself?" said Mary, putting her hands on Alice's 
shoulders, drawing her close, and smiling affectionately 
into her eyes. 

" Don't you remember my laughing, once, at school, 
over the story about Alcibiades' refusing to learn to 
play on the flute, because he deemed the necessary 
puckering of the mouth undignified, and that you 
thought he was right ? Heroes, my dear, according to 
3'our romantic notions, must always be heroic." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 231 

"Heroes!" exclaimed Mary, with wide-eyed inno- 
cence. " Who, pray, mentioned heroes I" But a height- 
ened color tinged her cheeks. 

Alice, without making reply, placed her hand over 
Mary's heart, and stood as though counting its beats. 
" 'Tis a dear little heart," mused she, " but — " 

" But what ?" 

"But very susceptible, I fear." And lifting her 
right hand, she shook her forefinger at her i'riend. 
"Take care!" said she, with a voice and look half 
serious, half jocular. 

" Oh, don't be uneasy about me !" And with a bright 
smile on her flushed face Mary frisked away to join 
some of the other girls who were descending to the 
breakfast- room. 

Falling in love is like getting drunk, — we blush when 
we betray symptoms of the malady, yet rejoice in its 
progress ! 



CHAPTEE XXXYII. 

We now return to our friends assembled in the Hall. 

Especially among the ladies who had not heard the 
Don's first performance, expectation was on tiptoe. 
The excellent Herr is bustling about, rubbing his hands, 
and smiling through his spectacles the vast Teutonic 
smile. Charley places the case containing the Guarne- 
rius upon the table. The Don opens it with an almost 
nervous eagerness. She is to hear him, and he will 
outdo himself. 

But where is she ? Presently he espies her partly 
concealed behind the stalwart form of Jones. She is 
gazing at the western sky, — she alone of all the com- 
pany unconscious that he is about to play. 

The thought is a sudden shock. And then he re- 
members that she alone of the ladies had made no allu- 
sion, during the day, to the performance of the evening 
before, — had expressed no regret at not having been 
present. 



232 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

The artist nature is caprice itself, — changeful as an 
April sk}^ ; and the Don with sudden impulse released 
the neck of the violin, which sank back upon its luxuri- 
ous cushion of blue satin. He would excuse himself, — 
he could not play. But the strings, vibrating beneath 
an accidental touch, gave forth a chord, and instantly 
reversed the current of his feelings. Yes, he would 
play ; and taking up the instrument, he sauntered over, 
with as careless an air as he could command, to the 
window by which Mary stood, touching the strings 
lightly as he went, as though to see whether they were 
in tune. Mary felt his approach ; and partly turning 
her face and raising her eyes to his, as he reached her 
side, she said, with what was meant for a smile, " Now 
we shall have some merry music." And she dropped 
her eyes. 

"Why merry?" 

Mary, startled as well by the abruptness of the ques- 
tion as by a certain hardness in his voice, gave a quick 
glance at his face. 

" Why, is not the violin — " began she, but could get 
no farther, — held, as was the Wedding Guest by the 
glittering eye of the Ancient Mariner. 

" Is this, then, a merry world ?" 

The smile faded from Mary's face. These words had 
thrilled her; for it w^as not by nature a blithesome 
heart that beat in that young bosom, and its strings 
gave forth readiest response to minor chords. A slight 
tremor ran through her frame as she met the gaze of 
his darkly gleaming eyes, and a vague sense of having 
in some waj^ wounded his feelings oppressed her mind. 

Perhaps he read her thoughts ; for in an instant a 
reassuring smile — sad, almost pathetic — came into his 
eyes, followed by a look, — one momentary, indescriba- 
ble glance; and her untutored heart began to throb so 
that she thought he must hear it. 

" I, at least," he added, slowly, " have not found it such, 
so far; and see," said he, pointing with his bow to the 
faint streaks of red that tinged the western horizon, — 
"still another Christmas Day — and the only happy one 
that I have known since I was a child — one more 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 233 

Christmas Day — is dying 1" And his voice trembled as 
he averted his face. 

Mary felt a choking sensation in her throat ; for a 
kindred thought had been weighing upon her naturally 
melancholy spirit, as she stood there gazing upon the 
western sky; and the Don, in giving voice to her in- 
most thoughts, had touched a chord that thrilled with 
overmastering power. As he moved away to take his 
place by the'piano, she sank into a chair trembling 
from head to foot. They had stood together by the 
window hardly one minute, and had not exchanged 
above a dozen words ; yet as she followed his retiring 
form with her eyes, he was no longer the same person 
to her that he had been a moment before. She was 
stricken to the heart, and she knew it. 

The Don spoke to Charley in a low voice. " Yes," 
replied he, " we have it ;" and hurrying into the ad- 
joining room he soon returned, bearing in his hand 
some sheet music. "Thanks," said the Don, placing 
the piano-part before the Herr, and laying the violin 
score upon the piano. " Never mind about the stand ; 
I know it by heart. Can you read yours, Mein Herr, 
by the light of the fire ?" 

" Oh, I tink so." And adjusting his spectacles, he 
looked at the title of the piece. " De Elegie von Ernst I 
Ah, das ist vat you call very sat, very vat you call 
melancholish," — and he struck a chord. " So !" — and 
poising his hands, he glanced upwards to signify his 
readiness to begin. 

A sudden stillness came over us at the sight of the 
sombre face of the Don. Obviously, we all felt there 
was to be a change of programme. There were to be 
no musical fireworks on this occasion. 

Had the Don been a consummate actor, posing for 
effect, he could not have brought his audience into more 
instant, more complete harmony with the spirit of the 
piece he was about to render. Tall, broad-shouldered, 
gaunt, he seemed in the rudd}- glare of the great bank 
of coals to tower above us, while his eyes, fixed for a 
moment with a far-away look upon the fire, seemed 
doubly dark in contrast with the red light upon his brow. 

20* 



234 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

He placed the violin beneatb his dark, flowing beard, 
and poised the bow above the strings. 

I fear that but few of my readers will follow me in 
this scene. To have heard pathetic music only in 
theatres and concert-halls, amid a sea of careless faces 
distracted by bright toilets, and under the glare of gas- 
light, is to have heard it, indeed, but not to have felt 
it. The " Miserere" chanted in the dim religious light 
of St. Peter's rends the heart of the listener. It has 
been found to be meaningless elsewhere. For the 
power of music, as of eloquence, lies in the heart of 
the hearer, — a heart prepared beforehand by the sur- 
roundings. 

On the present occasion everything was in the 
artist's favor, — the dying day, the spectral glare and 
shadow wrought by the glowing coals, the reaction 
after a week of frolic gladness. 

The bow descended upon the G- string, softly as a 
snow-flake, but clinging as a mother's arm. 

Ernst has obej'cd Horace's maxim, and plunged at 
once into the middle of his story. With the very first 
tone of the violin there seems to break from the over- 
wrought heart a low moan, which, rising and swelling, 
leaps, in the second note, into a cry of rebellious an- 
guish, — anguish too bitter to be borne ; despair were 
more endurable ; and in the fourth bar the voice of the 
crushed spirit sinks into a weird, muttered whisper of 
resignation unresigned. The whole story is tliere, — 
there in those four bars, but the poet begins anew and 
sings his sorrow in detail; pouring forth a lament so 
passionate in its frenzy that it almost passes, at times, 
the bounds of true music (for can you not hear the 
sobs, see the wringing of the hands?), and rising, at 
last, to a climax that is almost insupportable, the voice 
of wailing then sinks — for all is over — into a low plaint, 
and dies into silence. 

The Marcui Funebre of the Eroica symphony is the 
lament of a nation of Titans ; in Ernst's Elegie one poor 
human heart is breaking — breaking all alone. I have 
heard the piece since in crowded halls and beneath the 
blaze of chandeliers, and performed by artists more 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 235 

finished, no doubt, than was the Don ; but the effect he 
wroui^ht I have never seen approached. All eyes were 
riveted upon him while he played, and when he ceased 
— when the last despairing sigh died upon the air — no 
one moved, not a note of applause w^as given, and the 
only sound heard was that of long-drawn breaths of 
relief. 

It was an intense moment. My grandfather was the 
first to break the spell. Approaching the Don with a 
tender look in his eyes^ he tried, I think, to speak a few 
words, but could only press his hand. Then there arose 
a subdued murmur of whispered enthusiasm, each one 
to his neighbor. At last — 

" Billy,'^ said the middle-aged-fat-gentleman, " I give 
it up, — he can beat you." And a ripple of laughter re- 
lieved the tension. 

And Mary ? 

She and the Don happened to be among the last to 
leave the hall, and he offered her his arm. Neither 
spoke for a few moments. 

"How silly you must have thought me !" 

" I assure you — " 

"Oh, but you must. But I had never heard any- 
thing but fiddling before. Do you know," she added 
gravely, " I doubt if any of the company understood 
all that you meant, save myself?" 

" And are you quite sure that you understood all that 
I felt?" 

Mary looked up and their eyes met. Eeleasin.g his 
arm as she passed into the house, she colored deeply. 



CHAPTER XXXYIII. 

"Is not this Thursday?" suddenly asked my grand- 
father, at breakfast, a week or so after the events just 
described. " It is? Then this is the day for the Poy- 
thress's return. Ah, now we shall have music." 

A man talking with another may look him in the 



236 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

face for an hour without knowing one of his thoughts ; 
a woman will flash a careless glance across your face, 
— across it — no more, — and read you to the heart. 

Alice and Mary beamed upon each other and ejacu- 
lated, " Lucy !" But Mary's eyes had had time to sweep 
the features of the Don. " Won't it be charming to 
have Lucy with us!" said she; but she hardly knew 
what she said. Her face, turned towards Alice, wore 
a mechanical smile ; but she saw only the Don and 
the startled, almost dazed look that came over his 
face on hearing Mr. Whacker's words. How brave 
a little woman can be! She turned to the Don and 
said, — a seraphic smile upon her face, — " You have 
never heard Lucy play. You have a great treat in 
store." 

"No," replied he, dropping his napkin. "No," re- 
peated he, his eye fixed upon vacancy. He had heard 
with his ears and answered with his lips. That was 
all. Suddenly recollecting himself, he turned to her 
with a bow and a courteous smile : " Yes, it will be a 
great treat, — very great;" but his thoughts, mightier 
than his will, swept the smile from his features and left 
them pale and rigid as before. 

How many thoughts crowded upon Mary's heart in 
that instant ! " What a silly school-girl I have been I 
A word here and a word there, during these last ten 
da^'S, have made me forget the intense interest he ob- 
viously took in Lucy at first sight. After all, what 
has he said to mc ? Nothing, absolutely nothing ! And 
yet I was so weak as to imagine — and now he has 
learned of a new bond of sympathy — music — between 
Lucy and himself Why did I learn nothing but 
waltzes and variations and such trash ? If only — too 
late! And he has seen so little of her! That dream, 
too, — that strange, terrible dream, — should have warned 
me. And now Lucy is coming. Lucy! is she, then, 
so superior to me ? She is as good as an angel, I know ; 
but I thought that I — wretched vanity again" — and she 
stamped her foot — *'yet Alice has thought so too — else 
why — surely, he cannot have been trifling with me? 
Never ! Of that, at least, he is incapable ! Such a noblo 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 237 

countenance as his could not — " And for a second she 
lifted her eyes to his — 

"Yes, Zip, I'll take one." 

" Girls," said Alice, "just look at Mary; an untasted 
waffle on her plate and taking another!" 

Mary gave one of those ringing laughs that so infest 
the pages of female novelists. 

"Is there to be a famine?" asked one. 

"Or is the child falling in love?" chimed in Alice; 
but without raising her eyes from her empty coifee-cup, 
in the bottom of which she was writing and re-writing 
her initials with the spoon. 

To all the rest of the company these words seemed 
as light and careless as the wind. Not so to Mary. 
Her heart leaped ; but, by some subtle process known 
only to women, she forbade the blood to mount into 
her cheek. 

"I warn you to beware," said Mr. Whacker. "Full 
many a heart has been lost in this house !" 

" All hearts, I must believe," rejoined Mary, with a 
bow and half-coquettish smile. 

My grandfather placed his hand upon his heart and 
bent low over the table, amid the approving plaudits 
of the- company. Charley did the same. " There are 
two of us," he explained; "Uncle T-T-Tom and 
myself." 

" He is laughing now ; how he seems to admire Mr. 
Frobisher! But why did he turn pale, just now, at 
the mention of Luc^^'s name? I have never read any- 
where of love's producing that effect, certainly. Per- 
haps — perhaps, after all, he did not change color. My 
imagination, doubtless. ]No, I am not mistaken ! Why, 
his brow is actually beaded with perspiration ! incom- 
prehensible enigma! would to heaven I had never met 
him ! and yet — " 

If any of my young readers shall be so indiscreet as 
to fall in love with enigmas, let them not lay the folly 
to my charge. I most solemnly warn them against it. 

Poor little Mary watched the Don all that day with 
that scrutiny so piercing, and yet so unobtrusive, of 
which a woman's eye alone is caj^able, — hopefully fear- 



238 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

ing to discover the truth of what she fearfully hoped 
was not true; but it was not before the sun had sunk 
low in the west, and she had begun to convince herself 
of the illusory character of her observations at the 
breakfast-table, that she got such reward as that of the 
woman who, alter twenty years' searching, at last 
found a burglar under her bed. 

As the time approached at which the Poythress 
family should arrive (at their home across the river), 
my grandfather would go out upon the piazza every 
few minutes, and after looking across the broad river 
return and report that there were no signs of the 
carriage. 

" It is not yet time by half an hour," said Charley, 
looking at his watch. 

" At any rate I'll get the telescope and have it ready," 
replied he, as he passed into the dining-room; return- 
ing, bearing in his hand one of those long marine 
glasses so much used at that time. " This is a remark- 
ably fine glass," said he to the Don. 

The Don was seated behind Alice's chair, helping her 
to play her hand at whist, if that name be applicable 
to a rattling combination of cards, conversation, and 
bursts of laughter. 

" Last summer," continued Mr. Whacker, " I counted 
with it a hen and seven small chickens on the Poy- 
thress's lawn — " 

"Mr. Frobisher!" cried Alice. "There you are 
trumping m}^ ace!" 

"Charley!" exclaimed Mr. Whacker, with reproach- 
ful surprise. 

"And, Uncle Tom, would jow believe it, — he has 
made three revokes already ? What ought to be done 
to such a partner?" 

Jones, who ought to have been back at the Univer- 
sity long since, was, on the contrary, seated at a neigh- 
boring card-table. He remembered the scrape that 
Charley had gotten him into on Christmas Eve. 

'• I don't think," said he, sohloquizing, as he slowly 
dealt out the cards, " that I could love a partner who 
revoked." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 239 

A smile ran around the tables. Charley bit his lip. 

"What, Charley!" exclaimed Mr. Whacker. "The 
ace of trumps second in hand, and you had another!" 

" I wanted to take that particular trick," said Charley, 
doggedly. 

Charley and Jones were sitting back to back, their 
chairs almost touching. Jones turned around, and, with 
his lips within an inch of the back of Charley's head, 
spoke in measured tones, " He — is — after — a — particu- 
lar — trick, Uncle Tom ; hence his peculiar play.". 

Every one laughed, even Charley. Alice's cheeks 
rivalled the tints of the conch-shell; and Mary, charmed 
to see her for once on the defensive, clapped her hands 
till half her cards were on the floor. 

I should not have said that everybody laughed, for 
my grandfather did not even smile. No suspicion of 
the state of things to which Jones had maliciously 
alluded had ever crossed his mind. He was totally 
absorbed in contemplation of the enormity of playing 
out one's ace of trumps second in hand. And that 
Charlej- — Charley, whom he had trained from a boy to 
the rigor of the game according to Hoyle — that he 
should seem to defend such — so — so horrible a sole- 
cism ! It was too much. He was a picture to look at, 
as he stood erect, the nostrils of his patrician nose 
dilated Avith a noble indignation, his snowy hair con- 
trasting with his dark and glowing eyes, that swept 
from group to group of mirthful faces, and back again, 
sternly wondering at their untimely merriment. 

" But, Uncle Tom," put in Jones — 

"No, no!" interrupted Mr. Whacker, with an im- 
patient wave of his hand. "Nothing can justify such 
play." 

" But, Uncle Tom, suppose — " 

"Very well," replied Mr. Whacker, in a gentler tone, 
mollified by the anticipation of easy and certain victory, 
"very well ; make your supposition." And he assumed 
a judicial brow. 

" Now, suppose that there is a particular hand — " 

Billy paused. 

" Well, go on." 



240 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" A very particular hand." 

My grandfather's eyes began to flash. The vast host 
of those who believe in playing "according to their 
hands" rose before his mind. 

" Go on," added he, controlling himself with an 
effort. 

"Suppose there is a certain hand that a fellow — a 
hand that a certain fellow — for example — wants — 
wants — to get possession of" 

Charley winced, and Alice's color rose in spite of 
her utmost efforts to look unconcerned. 

"A hand that he wants to get possession of!" cried 
Mr. Whacker, with unspeakable amazement. " What 
gibberish is this? I was supposing all along that he 
had the hand !" 

" 1^0 ; but he wants it aw-ful-ly," said Jones, with 
sepulchral solemnity. 

Peal after peal of laughter arose, while Charley 
shuffled his cards with the vigor of desperation. Poor 
fellow, he had never been in love before, and — keen 
humorist that he was — he knew full well that no man 
could be in love without being at the same time ridicu- 
lous. My grandfather looked on, mystified but smiling. 
" This is one of your jokes," said he, taking Billy by 
both ears. 

" On the contrary, it is a case — ouch ! — of the very 
deadest earnest that I have ever — smi-ling-ly beheld. 
But, honestly. Uncle Tom, suppose there was a suit — a 
suit, mind you — " 

" C-c-c-cut the cards," yelled Charley. 

"A suit," continued the implacable Bill}-, "that you 
were prosecuting — " 

" Wished to establish, you mean." 

"Yes, a suit—" 

"Uncle Tom," cried Charley, almost upsetting the 
table, " I give it up. 'Twas an idiotic play I made." 

Billy threw back his head so that it rested on Char- 
ley's shoulder. " When," asked he, under cover of the 
general laughter, — " when are you going to cut your 
finger again ?" 

Just then Mr. Whacker appeared at the window and 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 241 

gave three brisk raps, and the girls went scampering 
out on the piazza, followed by the gentlemen, the Don 
bringing up the rear. There was a general waving of 
handkerchiefs, and the telescope passed from hand to 
hand. 

" There they all are," cried Alice, cheerily, peering 
through the glass with one eye and smiling brightly 
with the other: "Lucy and Mrs. Poj^thress on the 
back seat, her young brother and Mr. Poythress in 
front. Thej^ see us now, — there go the handkerchiefs ! 
Ah, just look at little Laura, sitting in Lucy's lap and 
waving for dear life ! Here, Mary, take a look. How 
distinctly you see them !" 

"Yes," said Mary; but with the eye w^hich seemed 
to be gazing through the telescope she saw nothing, 
while with the other she took in every motion of the 
Don. He was striding with irregular steps up and 
down the piazza, now mechanically waving his hand- 
kerchief, now thrusting it back into his pocket; at one 
time, as he stopped, his ej^es fixed upon the floor ; at 
another rolling with a kind of glare as he started sud- 
denly forward. He strode past her, and his arm grazed 
her shoulder. She shivered. Had her companions ob- 
served it ? She gave a quick glance, and was reassured. 
They were all waving in frantic, girlish glee, in re- 
sponse to the vigorous demonstrations across the Kiver. 
The rainbow knew not of the neighboring thunder-cloud. 

" What a terrible love," she mused. " But, oh, to 
have inspired it!" He had not yet had the glass in 
his hand ; she would offer it to him. Woman alone is 
capable of such self-sacrifice. She turned towards him 
as he was passing again, and, though a glance at his 
dark face almost unnerved her, she stood in his path 
and offered him the glass. A surprise was in store for 
her. Brought to himself, he looked startled at first, as 
though suddenly realizing who stood before him ; and 
then, sudden as a flash of light, there came into his 
eyes a look so gentle and tender as to set her heart 
violently beating. Such a look, she felt, would have 
been a declaration of love in any other man, — but in 
an enigma? 

L 7 21 



242 THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 

" Take a look through the telescope," said she, in a 
voice scarcely audible. 

He raised the glass to his eye. 

"Lucy is on this side," said she, "with Laura in her 
lap." 

Her eyes were riveted upon his face now. "What a 
change bad come over it! 

"Her mother sits next her; can't you malvc out her 
white hair?" 

The strong man's lips quivered. 

" She is dressed in black ; can't you see?" 

His grasp tightened on the glass. 

" She dresses always in black." 

The telescope began to tremble. 

Just then Charley brushed quickly past her and 
stood beside the Don. 

"That's not the way to use one of these long Toms,'* 
interposed he, with quiet decision. "They need a rest. 
Here, take this pillar." 

With a bow of acknowledgment the Don obeyed. 

Mary's eyes followed Charley with a searching look, 
as he carelessly sauntered off to the other end of the 
piazza, muttering half a dozen notes of a popular song; 
but his serene face gave no sign. 



CHAPTEE XXXIX. 

Friday came, and the Poj-thresses, having missed 
the Leicester Christmas festivities, were to dine with 
us that day. In the evening there was to be (no won- 
der my grandfather was out on the porch a dozen times, 
looking for the first oar-splash on the other side) — in the 
evening there was to be a quintet; and Mr. Whacker, 
who was as proud of Lucy as though she were his own 
daughter, was eager to exhibit her prowess to the 
stranger. It must not be supposed, from my silence 
on this point, that we had had no music since Mr. 
Whacker's discoveiy what a treasure he had in the 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 243 

Don. During this period we had had quartets, duets, 
solos innumerable. Christmas times, in fact, as under- 
stood at Elmington, had irresistible charms for Herr 
Waldteufel; and he had hardly left us for an hour. 

And now the company at Elmington stood on the 
piazza watching the boat that, with measured stroke, 
approached the foot of the lawn. 

"How charming to sail forth in a boat to dine!" said 
Alice. 

"And then the moonlight row home," added Mary: 
" it suggests Venice." 

As the boat neared the landing, there was a general 
movement from the piazza to meet the coming guests, 
my grandfather leading the way. He had not made 
many steps before he looked about him, and seeing the 
Don bringing up the rear, he slackened his pace. The 
Don came up biting his nails vigorously, with his eyes 
fixed upon the ground, but from time to time glancin^r 
nervously in the direction of the boat. "^ 

" We have invited the whole family, old and youno- " 
began Mr. Whacker. ^ &) 

Mary, just in front, was drinking in with upturned 
face the soft nothings of some young man ; but she 
chanced to turn her head sufficiently to catch the start 
with which the Don aroused himself from his reverv 
at these words of his host. 

II I thought you would like to see little Laura, too." 
"Ah, yes, little Laura; it was very thoughtful of 
you." ^ 

" Have you ever heard the little thing sing ? Upon 
my word, she promises to rival Lucy's talent for music. 
Ihey get it from their mother. But here they are." 
And the old gentleman advanced with all the briskness 
of hospitality, if not of youth. Charley leaned for- 
ward, lifted Laura from the boat, and, kissing her 
placed her upon the ground. 

" Where is he ?" cried she ; " I don't see him." And 
she looked from face to face with shining eagerness. 
"Yonder he is," and away she skipped. "Here he is " 
she shouted, twining her arms around his knees ; " here 
is Don Miff, sister Lucy." 



244 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

There was a general smile, and he stooped and kissed 
her several times. 

" And here is Mr. Fat-Whacker, sister Lucy," cried 
she, running up and taking my hand. 

" Sister Lucy," her right hand held by one gentle- 
man, her left by another, stood at this moment one foot 
on a seat, the other on the gunwale of the boat, bal- 
ancing herself for a spring. It is certain that the color 
rose in her cheeks ; but that may have been due to the 
rocking of the boat. Sister Lucy steadied herself for 
the leap. 

" Mr. Fat-Whacker," began our merry tattler, address- 
ing herself to the Don, "is the one — " 

Lucy, remembering Kichmond and Laura's side-walk 
confidences to the Don, on the occasion of her first in- 
terview with him, gave Mr. Fat-Whacker, as she sprang 
from the boat, a quick, appalled glance. He was equal 
to the occasion. " Yes," cried he, seizing the explana- 
tory cherub and tossing her high in the air, " here's 
Mr. Fat-Whacker; and here," he added, with another 
toss, " is Mr. Uncle Whacker ; and here," he continued, 
raising her at arm's length above his head and holding 
her there while he made at her some of those faces that 
were her delight, "here is everybody V 

Jjxxaj gave Mr. F.-W. a glance, as she hurried past 
him to shake hands with the Don, that he thought was 
grateful ; and he was stooping slightly to pat his little 
benefactress on the head, when he was sent whirling 
by a blow against the shoulder like that of a battering- 
ram. 

It appears that Mrs. Poythress, during the merry 
confusion wrought by her little daughter, whether in 
her eagerness to shake hands with the man who, as 
she felt, had saved Lucy's life, or else thinking that she 
needed no assistance, had attempted to alight from the 
boat unaided; but tripping, in some way, she was fall- 
ing at full length upon the frozen ground. The Don 
saw her danger. He was almost six feet away from 
the boat, my shoulder was in the way, and Lucy's fair 
hand was extended, — had touched his in fact, — when 
he sprang forward. 'Twas the spring of a leopard, — 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 245 

as swift and as unerring. Crouching, he ah'ghted be- 
neath her before she reached the ground, caught her 
as though she had been a ball, and springing to one 
side lightly as a cat, placed her feet, without a jar, upon 
the ground. 

"Are you much hurt?" asked he, with a singular 
mixture of respectful deference and eager interest. 

Women, whether old or young, generally form their 
opinion of a man during the first five minutes of their 
acquaintance. Mrs. Poythress, at least, was won by 
those few words, that one look of the stranger, and 
believed in him from that hour. 

" Our introduction has been informal," said she, ex- 
tending her hand with a smile; "but you made my 
Lucy's acquaintance in a manner equally unconven- 
tional. I have long desired to greet you and thank 
you." And she raised her ej-es to his. " I — " Mrs. Poy- 
thress paused. The Don stood holding her hand, bend- 
ing over it, listening, but with eyes averted and cast 
upon the ground, reverence in every curve of his stal- 
wart frame. 

" You owe me no thanks," said he, in a low murmur, 
and without raising his eyes. " Far from it." 

A mysterious feeling crept over Mrs. Poythress. 
Was it his eyes? Was it his voice? Or his manner? 
Was it something ? Was it nothing ? " I do feel rather 
weak. Perhaps I was a little jarred," said she; " may 
I lean on 3'our strong arm?" 'Bending low, he offered 
her his arm as a courtier would to a queen, but without 
the courtier's smile ; and they moved slowly towards 
the house. 

" He is a gentleman of the old school," thought Mr. 
Whacker. 

"One would think," mused Mary, "that he was 
already an accepted son-in-law." 

" A case of nubbin," chirped Alice (a phrase I leave 
as a kind of sample bone of contention to the philolo- 
gists of your day, my boy). She was leaning on 
Charley's arm, and raised her eyes inquiringly. " Some- 
how, though," added she, interpreting his silence as dis- 
sent, "somehow, I don't altogether believe so." 



21* 



246 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

No reply. 

She looked up again, and detected a faintly rippling 
Bmile struggling with the lines of his well-schooled fea- 
tures. He had heard her, then, — and half amused, 
half indignant, she gave his arm so sudden and vigo- 
rous a pull as visibly to disturb his balance. 

" Why don't you answer people ?" said she, a little 
testily. 

" You would not have a man hasty? Is it not best 
to treat people's remarks as a hunter does wild ducks? 
Save your ammunition. Don't fire at the first that 
comes ; wait till you can bring down three or four at a 
shot. Besides, it is rude." 

"Eude?" 

" Yes, to interrupt the current of people's observa- 
tions." 

" Well, you must interrupt the current of mine when 
I speak to you." 

" The tr-tr-tr-ouble is I'd rather hear you talk than 
talk myself." 

Three persons, walking behind this couple, had over- 
heard these words, — to wit, Jones, Jones's girl, and my- 
self. By Jones's girl I would be understood as referring 
to one of our Christmas party, through whose influence 
Jones had been led to infer that the lectures at the 
University immediately after Christmas were of com- 
paratively minor importance. We were all struck by 
the absence of banter in Charley's last remark. Jones 
looked at me, and opening wide his eyes, and dropping 
his chin, formed his mouth into a perfect circle. 

"The old fox is caught," whispered he; and taking 
another look, "sure pop!" he added, — an inelegant ex- 
pression which I record with regret, and only in the 
interests of historic accuracy. Jones's girl, while we 
smiled at Charley, had her woman's eyes on Alice, and 
with raised brows and a nod directed our attention to 
her. Alice had obviously noticed the peculiar tone of 
Charley's voice, and coyly dropped her eyes. "Mr. 
Probisher," she began, "I must beg your pardon." 

" For what, pray ?" 

" For my rudeness in pulling your arm, just now I" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 247 

"Oh, don't speak of it," and then a mcny twinkle 
coming into his eyes, "it didn't hurt a bit. I rather 
liked it. D-d-d-d-o it again." 

Just then Jones turned quickly, and, with the de- 
lighted look of a discoverer, snapped his head, first at 
his girl and then at me. 

"You saw it?" 

His girl nodded assent. Jones looked at me inquir- 
ingly. 

"What was it?" 1 whispered. 

"He squeezed her hand with his arm, — most posi- 
tively—didn't he ?" 

Jones's girl looked assent. 

" Hard ?" 

She nodded again, — laughter-tears bedimming her 
young eyes. 

"The villain I" breathed Billy; and throwing back 
his head, he showed two rows of magnificent teeth, 
while his mouth, though emitting no sound, went 
through all the movements of Homeric laughter. 

" Will," said she, turning towards him, — " Will," said 
she, softly, as she raised her eyes admiringly to his 
frank and manly face, " you are the greatest goose in 
the world." 

" And you the dearest duck on earth." 

So, at least, they seemed to me to say ; but perhaps 
— for I admit that they spoke in whispers — perhaps 
I say this less as a hearer than as a Seer. 



CHAPTEE XL. 



"Where is Mr, Smith?" asked Mrs. Carter, as she 
helped the company to soup. 

"Yes, where is he?" repeated Mr. Whacker, looking 
up in surprise. " Perhaps ho does not know that we 
are at dinner." 

"After conducting me to the parlor," explained Mrs. 



248 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Poythress, " he excused himself and went to his room. 
I fancied he was not very well." 

"Indeed!" said Mr. Whacker. "Zip, you go — " 

Charley made a motion to Moses, — Zip for short, — 
and rising from the table and bowing his excuses, he 
left the room. 

" I am a little afraid," continued Mrs. Poythress, 
turning to me, who chanced to be her nearest neighbor 
at table, "that your friend over-strained himself in that 
tremendous leap he made to save me from falling. I 
am sure I felt his arm tremble as we walked towards 
the house. Then he was so very silent. Is he always 
so?" 

" Generally ; though I do not think it is altogether 
natural to him. He seems to constrain himself to 
silence from some motive or other; but every now and 
then he loses control of himself, it would seem, and 
breaks forth into a real torrent of brilliant talk, — no, 
brilliant is not the word — though torrent is. When he 
bursts forth in this impassioned way, he carries every- 
thing before him. B}^ the way, his leaping is of the 
same character. Do you know I had to change my 
shoes? For when he sprang to catch you, he actually 
knocked me into the water." 

"What eyes he has! Such a concentrated look! 
And no one," she added after a pause, " has any idea 
who he is?" 

" ^ot the slightest." 

" Is it possible ? What a number of strange people 
your dear old grandfather has contrived to bring to 
Elmington from time to time ! Where he has found 
them all, or how they have found him, has always been 
a mj'stery to mc." 

" Yes, but the Don is not one of grandfather's cap- 
tures. Charley must have the credit of bringing him 
in." 

" Then he is a good man," replied she, with decision. 
"Charley never makes any mistakes. But here comes 
Master Charles." 

Every one looked up on Charley's entrance. As for 
that young man, he looked neither to the right nor to 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 249 

the left. " Mr. Smith will be down presently," said he 
to Mrs. Carter. As he strode around the room to take 
his chair, his firm-set lips wore a rather dogged ex- 
pression, as though he would warn us all that, so far 
as he was concerned, the conversation was ended ; and, 
hastily taking his seat, he began a vigorous attack on 
his soup, as if to overtake the rest of the company. 
Somehow every one was silent, and the isolated and 
rather rapid click of Charley's spoon was distinctly 
audible. Alice smiled, and conversation beginning to 
spring up around the table, "I fear your soup is 
cold," she began. 

" The soup was cold ?" asked he, looking up. " I am 
very sorry." 

" I didn't say that," replied she, quickly. " I re- 
marked that I was afraid yours was cold." 

"Mine?" asked he, looking puzzled. "Why?" 

" You were detained so long up-stairs." 

" Oh !" said he, renewing the assault upon the soup. 
" You are right," he added ; " it is ratherish cool." 

Alice was foiled. " I believe Mrs. Poythress called 
you." 

Charley leaned forward. 

" Nothing serious, I hope ?" asked Mrs. Poythress. 

All eyes were fixed on Charley, every ear intent to 
hear his answer to this question, which Mrs. Poy- 
thress alone had ventured to ask. For a moment this 
master of fence and parry stood confounded ; but only 
for a moment. "^Nothing to speak of," replied he, 
with careless simplicity, and, leaning back in his chair, 
he glanced at Uncle Dick. Eichard, briskly, though 
with averted face, came to remove the soup-plate, and 
then hurried out of the room to have a quiet chuckle. 

*' Tain't no use, Polly ; dey jess as well let Marse 
Charles alone. He is a keener, he is, umgh — umgh ! 
Dey ain't gwine to git nothin' out o' him, ef you b'lieve 
Dick, dey ain't, mun." And the old worthy's sides 
shook with laughter. "Dey has been tetchin' her up 
pretty lively dis mornin', dat's a fac', and dey wet 
Dick's whistle for him, dey did, ef you b'lieve me, and 
more'n once, too. Well, 



250 THE STORV OF DON MIFF. 

' Christmas comes but once a year, 
Den every nigger git his shear.' 

Hurry up, gal ! hurr^^ up !" 

"Don't come round me, boy, wid your ' hurry up, 
hurry up.' Don't you see I'se hurryin' up all t kin 
hurry up alread}^ ? 1 b'lieve j^ou is drunk, anyhow!" 

" Pretty close to it, thank de Lord. 

* Christmas comes but once a year, ^^^ 

Every nigger — ' " 

" I tell you git out o' dis kitchen, and mind you 
don't fall and break dat dish, wid your 'Christmas 
comes but once a year.' Go 'long, boy. Dat ham's 
seven years old, and you jess let it fall !" 

" Hi !" thought Uncle Dick, as he entered the dining- 
room. " What's he doin' at de table ?" 

Eichard was surprised. 

For, as I am pained to have to say, the Virginians 
had in those days the very irrational habit of drinking 
before dinner; and it was to this fact that Uncle Dick 
alluded in the somewhat figurative language recorded 
above. If the truth must be told, our venerable serving- 
man never doubted but that the Don stayed up-stairs 
simply because he was too drunk to come down. The 
facts were far otherwise. 

"Charley," said I that night, as we were smoking 
our last pipe, " what was the matter with the Don to- 
day ? Why was he not with us when we sat down to 
dinner?" 

" Because," said Charley, lazily lolling back in his 
rocking-chair, and sighting with one eye through a 
ring of smoke that he had just projected from his 
mouth, — " because he w^as in his room." 

" Another word, and Solomon's fame perishes." 

" It is a well-known phj^sical law" (Charley used to 
avenge himself on me in private for his silence in gen- 
eral company), — " it is a well-known physical law," said 
he, inserting his forefinger with great precision into the 
centre of the whirling ring, " that a body cannot occupy 
two — " 



THE STORF OF DON MIFF. 251 

** To be continued in our next. But why was he not 
punctual, as usual ?" 

"Nothintjr simpler, — because he was behind time." 

"Solon, Solon!" 

"Yes, Sir William Hamilton has well observed that 
it is positively unthinkable that the temporal limita- 
tions of two events occurring at different times should 
be identical. Let's have another pipe." 

Charley had forced me to change the subject ; but I 
co"rTtrived to make the change not very satisfactory to 
him. " By the way," I began, " what were you and 
the charming Alice saying to one another on your way 
from the landing to-day ?" 

Charley laid his halt-filled pipe on the table and gave 
a frightful yawn. "Let's go to bed," said he, and im- 
mediately began to doff his clothes with surprising 
swiftness. 

"Two bodies," said I, striking a match, "cannot" 
— Charley kicked off one boot — " occupy the same 
space" — off flew the other; " but, as Sir William hath 
well put it, — or was it some other fellow?" — and 
leaning against the end of the mantel-piece, and pois- 
ing myself on my elbow, I assumed a thoughtful atti- 
tude, — "two bodies are sometimes fond of being very 
close together. Why this sudden and uncontrollable 
somnolency? Were we not to have another pipe?" 
But not another word could I get out of Charley ; and 
nearlj' four j-ears passed by before he gave me the ac- 
count (which I will now lay before the reader) of what 
he saw that day. 

The Don, as we know, had escorted Mrs. Poythress 
from the landing at the foot of the lawn to the house, 
and had gone immediately to his room. As she leaned 
upon his arm, he had seemed to her to be tremulous ; 
and a certain disorder in his features as he left the par- 
lor had led her to fear that he was not well ; having, 
as she surmised, given himself an undue wrench in his 
efforts to arrest her fall. Then, when the Don had 
failed to put in an appearance at dinner, Charlej^ had 
gone in person to his room. To a gentle tap there was 
no reply, and successively louder knocks eliciting no 



252 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

response, a vague sense of dread crept over him, and 
his hand shook as he turned the knob and entered the 
room. "Great God !" cried Charley, stopping short, as 
he saw the Don stretched diagonally across the bed, 
his face buried in a pillow. There he lay, still as death. 
Was he dead? Charley hurried to the bedside with 
agitated strides, and leaning over the prostrate figure, 
with lips apart, intently watched and listened for signs 
of life. "Thank God!" breathed Charley. For reply 
the Don, with a sudden movement, tlfrew back his 
right arm obliquely across his motionless body, and 
held out his open hand. The released pillow felL It 
was wetted with tears. Charley clasped the offered 
hand with a sympathetic pressure that seemed quite to 
unnerve the Don ; for the iron grasp of his moist hand 
was tempered by a grateful tenderness, and convulsive 
undulations again and again shook his stalwart frame. 
For a while neither spoke. 

" You will be down to dinner presently, I hope ?" 

The Don nodded, and Charley crossed the room and 
poured out some water and moved some towels in an 
aimless sort of wa}". 

" I'll go down now ; come as soon as you can." 

Another nod. 

Charley moved, half on tiptoe, to the door, and 
placing his hand on the knob, turned and looked at the 
Don. A sudden impulse seized him as he saw the 
strong man lying there on his face, his arm still ex- 
tended along his back ; and hurrying to the bedside, 
he bent over him, and taking the open hand in both his, 
with one fervent squeeze released it and hastened out 
of the room. But he had not reached the door before 
there broke upon his ear a sound that made him shiver. 

It was a sob. 

One ! — 'No more ! It was a sound such as we do not 
often hear and can never forget, — the sob of a strong 
man, bursting, hoarse, guttural, discordant, from an 
over-wrought heart, — a stern, proud heart that would 
stifle the cry of its bitterness, but may not. A look, — 
a word, — the touch of a friendly hand, — has sufficed to 
unprison the floods. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 253 

So, once, the dimpled finger of childhood pressed the 
electric key ; and the primeval rocks of Hell-Gate 
bounded into the air. 



CHAPTER XLI. 



Charley hurried along the upper hall, and arriving 
at the head of the stairs, blew his nose three times with 
a certain fierce defiance. This strictly commonplace 
operation he repeated in a subdued form as he neared 
the dining-room door, and stopping again, with one 
hand upon the knob, he passed the other again and 
again across his forehead and eyes, as though he had 
been an antiquated belle who would smooth out the 
wrinkles before entering a ball-room. Then, with that 
severe look of determined reticence of which I have 
spoken above, he entered the dining-room ; exciting in 
all breasts, male and female alike, a keen but hopeless 
curiosity. This feeling, however, soon subsided ; for the 
Don had entered shortly after Charley, and, begging 
Mrs. Carter to excuse his tardiness, had taken his seat 
and passed out of our minds. For besides that the 
dinner was good and the wine generous, most of us had 
our own little interests to look after. Jones, for ex- 
ample, and Jones's girl were too happy to care whether 
any one in the world were late or early for dinner. 
My grandfather, Mrs. Carter, and myself were suffi- 
ciently occupied as hosts, — and Charley, too, though he 
devoted his time principally to one guest. As a matter 
of fact, therefore, during the early part of the dinner 
the Don sat unobserved by the greater part of the com- 
pany; and but for on"e faithful pair of eyes, I should 
have had nothing to record. 

In the spirit of mischief, Alice had so manoeuvred 
that the seat left vacant for the Don was between Lucy 
and little Laura. *' Won't it be sweet, mother, to see 
all three of them in a row, — Lucy — Mr. Don Miff — 
Laura ? Quite a little family party !" 

^' Very well," replied Lucy, laughing, " arrange it as 
22 



254 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

you will ; I am sure I should like very well to sit by 
* the Don.' Do you still call him by that name?" 

" Of course. It has a grand sound, and grand sounds, 
you know, are precious to the female heart." 

The Don's looks when he entered were downcast, 
his manner hesitating, and his voice, when he made his 
apologies to Mrs. Carter, scarcely audible. Charley, 
the moment the Don entered, had begun stammering 
away at Alice with a surprising volubility, and in a 
voice loud for him. He never stammered worse ; and 
such a pother did he make with his m's and his p's that 
he drew upon himself the smiling attention of all the 
company ; so that even Jones and his girl ceased mur- 
muring, for a moment, their fatuous nothings. It was 
under cover of this rattling vollej^that the Don had 
taken his seat and begun intently to examine the mono- 
gram on his fork. 

" Will 3'ou have some soup ?" asked Charley, in a 
frank, off-hand way. 

The commonplace nature of this question was an 
obvious relief to the Don, and he raised his eyes and 
looked about him. "Thanks, no soup. What!" said 
he, for the first time espying little Laura seated by his 
side, "you here b}^ me!" And taking her sunny head 
between his hands, he bent over and'kissed her on the 
forehead. 

A mother's smile trembled in Mrs. Poythress's eyes. 
" She is a very little diner-out," said she. 

At the sound of Mrs. Poythress's voice a shade passed 
over the Don's face. " He's the one, mumma, that 
built me the block-houses." And the smile came back. 

Mary watched the play of the Don's features during 
the triangular conversation that followed between him- 
self, Mrs. Poythress, and Laura, and was much puzzled. 
Light and shadow, shadow and light, chased each other 
over his changeful countenance like patches of cloud 
across a sunny landscape. Presently, chancing to turn 
his head, his eyes fell upon Lucy, seated on his right, 
and Mary's interest grew deeper. 

_^"You on my right and Laura on my left! I feel 
that I am indeed among friends." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 255 

" You may be sure of that," said Lucy, in her low 
and sweet, but earnest voice. 

The Don's pleasure at finding that Lucy was his 
neighbor at table was very obvious, and we must not 
blame Mary if it gave her a pang to see it. She could 
not but recall the stranger's manifest interest in Lucy 
w^hen he first met her, at breakfast, in Eichmond. 
Then she had not cared. Now it was different. For 
the next half-hour, while contributing her share to 
the conversation at her end of the table, she had man- 
aged to see everything that took place between the 
Don and Lucy. She saw everything, and yet she 
seemed to herself to see nothing. The meaning of it 
all — that she could not unravel. All she knew was 
that she was miserable ; and her wretchedness made 
her unjust. She was vexed at Lucy, — vexed for the 
strangest of reasons ; but the human heart — if the pla- 
giarism may be pardoned — is full of inconsistencies. 
Had Lucy made eyes at the Don, coquetted with him, 
Mary would doubtless have thought it unkind on her 
part; though that would have been unjust, as Lucy 
had no cause to suspect that her friend felt any special 
interest in the mj^sterious stranger. It was the entire 
absence of everything of this kind in Lucy's manner 
that nettled Mary. In her eyes the Don was a hero 
of the first water. Why didn't Lucy try to weave fas- 
cinations around such an one as he ? What kind of a 
man was she looking for? Did she expect the whole 
world to fall at her feet, whence to choose ? — or did 
she, perhaps, — and the thought shot through her heart 
with a keen pang, — did Lucy feel that the quarry was 
hers without an effort on her part to grasp it ? 

The Don's deportment, too, if incomprehensible, was 
at least irritating. "His lordship," thought she, bit- 
terly, "has hardly vouchsafed me a glance since he 
took his seat. Yet, before the Poythresses came — there 
he sits now, patting Laura^s head in an absent way, 
and studying Lucy's features, as she talks, as though 
he were a portrait-painter. One would think he had 
quietly adopted the entire Po3'thress family. Upon 
my word, Mr. Sphinx is a marvel of coolness ! How 



256 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Jittle he talks, too! — and yet he has contrived to bring 
Lucy out wonderfully. She is rattling away like a 
child, telling him about herself and all the family. 
How interested he seems! Heavens, what a look!" 

"Yes," she had heard Lucy say, "Laura is a regular 
Poythress, with her high color and golden hair; mine 
is just like mother's. I don't mean now," said she, 
with a little laugh and glancing at Mrs. Poythress's 
snow-white hair; "but mother's was coal-black once. 
It turned white — years ago — suddenly;" and she 
sighed softly, with downcast, pensive eyes, so that she 
did not observe the look of pain that her words had 
wrought and that had startled Mary. Looking up and 
seeing his face averted, Lucy thought he was admiring 
her little sister's curls. " What beautiful hair Laura 
has !" 

" Lovely," replied he, tossing a mass of ringlets on 
the tips of his fingers. 

"Won't you make me a boat, after dinner, with 
rudder and sails and everything?" And Laura looked 
up into his troubled face with a confiding, sunny smile. 



CHAPTER XLIL 



At last, the ladies rose to leave the table. 

"As soon, Mrs. Carter, as the gentlemen have had a 
cigar or so," said Mr. Whacker, " we shall have the 
honor of joining the ladies in the parlor and of escort- 
ing you to the Hall, where we shall have some music." 

" But when he hears her play !" thought Mary, as 
she left the room, arm in arm with her dreaded rival. 

" I drink your health," cried the Herr, dropping 
down into his chair as soon as the ladies had left the 
room. " I drink your very good health," said he, filling 
the Don's glass. Of course he pronounced the words 
after his own fashion. 

One would err who supposed that Herr Waldteufel 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 257 

felt any unusual anxietj" as to the physical condition 
of his neighbor. A decanter of sherry invariably 
wrouaht in his responsive mind a general but quite 
impartial interest in the well-being of all his friends. 
But on this occasion Mr. Whacker was particularly 
anxious that some limit should be put to the expression 
of that solicitude ; and he checked with a glance the 
zealous hospitality of Uncle Dick, who was about to 
replenish the nearly exhausted decanters. 

For this was to be a field day over at the Hall. 
There was to be a quintet, — think of that, — and a pint 
or so more sherry might disable the 'cello. 

My grandfather had been looking forward to this 
glorious occasion with nervous joy. It had been sev- 
eral years since he had taken part in so august a per- 
formance ; and before the first cigars were half burned 
out he had begun to fidget and look at his watch. 
Charley, therefore, was not long in proposing a move. 

"Now, ladies," said my grandfather, on reaching the 
parlor, " I, for one, cannot understand how it is that 
there are some people who don't love music; but there 
are such people, and very good people they are, too. 
Now, this is Liberty Hall, and every one must do as 
he pleases. We are going to make some music ; but 
no one need go with us who prefers remaining here. 
If there are any couples, for instance," — and Mr. 
Whacker raised his eyes to the ceiling — " who have 
softer things to say than any our instruments can pro- 
duce" (Jones and his girl looked unconscious), " let 
them remain and say them. Here is the parlor, there 
is the dining room; arrange yourselves as you would. 
And now, Mrs. Poythress, will you take my arm and 
lead the wa}^?" 

Jones and Jones's girl were the first to move, and we 
were soon on our way across the lawn ; while dark 
cohorts brought up the rear and covered the flanks of 
the merry column. 

" To me !" said Mary, when the Don had offered her 
his arm. " I feel much honored." And with a formal 
bow she rested the tips of her fingers upon his sleeve. 

The irony of her tones grated u])on his ear, and he 



258 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

turned quickly and bent upon her a puzzled though 
steady gaze. 

"Honored?" 

That look of honest surprise reassured her woman's 
heart, but made her feel that she had forgotten herself 
in meeting a courtesy with an incivility. 

They always know just what to do. 

Passing her arm farther within his, and leaning 
upon him .with a coquettish pressure, she looked up 
with a gracious smile. 

" Certainly. Have I not the arm of the primo vio- 
lino, — the lion of the evening?" 

And the primo violino wondered how on earth he 
had ever imagined that she was vexed. 

Very naturally, I cannot remember, after the lapse 
of years, what quintet thej^ played that evening. All 
that I distinctly recall is that it was a composition in 
which the piano was very prominent. My grandfather 
was (as I have, perhaps, said before) as proud of Lucy's 
playing as though she had been his own daughter; and 
I suspect that he and the Herr made the selection with 
a view to showing her off. 

Mary thought she had never seen Lucy look so 
graceful as when, sounding "A," she turned upon the 
piano-stool, and, with her arm extended backwards 
and her fingers resting upon the keys, she gave the 
note to each of the players in turn ; her usually serene 
face lit with the enthusiasm of expectancy. It was a 
truly lovely face, — lovely at all times, but peculiarly so 
when suffused with a certain soul-lit St. Cecilia look it 
wore at times like this. Alice sparkled, and Mary 
shone ; but Lucy glowed, — glowed with the half-hidden 
fire of fervid atfections and high and holy thoughts. 
Alice was a bounding, bubbling fountain, Mary a swift- 
flowing river, Lucj^ a still lake glassing the blue 
heavens in its unknown depths. Wit — imagination — 
soul. 

It chanced that the piano had to open the piece 
alone, the other instruments coming in one after 
another. Nervously smoothing down her music with 
both hands, rather pale and tremulous, Lucy began. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 259 

"Wh}^," thought Mary, gazing with still intensity 
from out the isolated corner in which she had seated 
herself, — " why does he look so anxious?" 

For, coming to a rapid run, Lucy had stumbled bad- 
ly, and the Don was pulling nervously at his tawny 
beard. But soon recovering her self-possession, she ex- 
ecuted a difficult passage with ease and brilliancy. 
"Brava! brava!" cried he, encouragingly, while the 
Herr nodded and smiled. As for my grandfather, a 
momentary side-flash of delight was all he could spare 
the lovely young pianist ; for with eyes intently fixed 
upon his score, and head bobbing up and down, he was 
in mortal dread of coming in at the wrong time. With 
him the merest nod of approval, by getting entangled 
with the nod rhythmic, might well have introduced a 
fatal error into his counting, while even an encouraging 
smile was not without its dangers. 

Mrs. Po3'thress gave the Don a grateful smile. 

" He seems to be taking Lucy under his protection," 
thought Mary. 

One after another the players came in ; first the Don 
and Herr Waldteufel, then the second and the viola ; 
and away they went, each after his own fashion ; 
Charley pulling away with close, business-like atten- 
tion to his notes; the Herr calm but smiling good- 
humoredly, when, from time to time, he stumbled 
through rapid passages where his reading was better 
than his execution ; Mr. Whacker struggling manfully, 
with flushed cheeks and eager eyes, and beating time 
with his feet with rather unprofessional vigor. As for 
Lucy, relieved of her embarrassment, when fire had 
opened all along the line, she made the Herr proud of 
his pupil; while the Don, master of his score and his 
instrument, kept nodding and smiling as he pla^^ed ; 
watching her nimble fingers, during the pauses of his 
part, with undisguised satisfaction. 

Mary, sitting apart, saw all this. Nor Mary alone. 

" He is a goner !" whispered Billy to his girl, in ob- 
jectionable phrase. 

"Oh, yes; hopelessly !'' looked she. 

" Mr. Frobisher, too, — he's another goner." 



260 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

The beloved of William glanced at Charley and bit 
her lip. Somehow it seemed comic to every one that 
Charley should be in love. 

Then Billy, folding his arms across his deep chest, 
and summoning his mind to a vast generahzation : 
" The fact is, everybody is a goner," said he ; " as for 
me — " 

His girl placed her finger upon her rosy lip, and re- 
proved his chattering with a frown that was very, very 
fierce ; but from beneath her darkling brows there 
stole, as she raised her e3^es to his manly face, a glance 
soft as the breath of violets from under a hedge of 
thorns. 

The allegro moderate came to an end with the usual 
twang twing twang. 

" Unt we came out all togedder!" exclaimed the 
Herr. "Dot is someding alread}'. Shentlemen und 
ladies, I tell you a little story, vot you call. Ber- 
lioz was once leading an orchestra, part professionals, 
part amateurs. Yen dey vas near de ent of de stucke 
vot you call morceau, ' Halt, shentlemens !' cry Berlioz, 
rapping on the bulbit-desk, vot you call. 'Now, shentle- 
mens amateurs,' says he, 'you just stop on dis bar unt 
let de oders blay, so dat we all come out togedder.' " 

The excellent Herr, after laughing himself to the 
verge of asphyxiation, explained that "Berlioz, you 
unterstant, vas a great vit, vat you call, unt make 
many funny words." It was a peculiarity of our 
friend Waldteufel that his pronunciation of English 
varied with the amount of water that he had neglected 
to drink ; and as this was an uncertain quantity, you 
could never be quite sure whether he would say vas 
or was, words or vords. At certain critical moments, 
too, when his soul stood vascillating between content- 
ment and thirst, the two systems were apt to become 
mixed as above. I will add that I make no attempt 
at accuracy in reproducing his dialect, preferring to 
leave that, in part at least, as I have done in a parallel 
case, to the resources of the reader. 

The remaining movements of the quintet were 
played in somewhat smoother style ; but the only one 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 261 

requiring special mention, for our purposes, was the 
larghetto, or slow movement. In this number, the tech- 
nical difficulties of which were inconsiderable, Lucy's 
tender religious spirit revealed itself most touchingly. 
It so happened that the composer had placed this part 
mainly in the hands of the piano and the first violin, 
the other instruments merely giving an unobtrusive 
accompaniment. First the viohn gave out the theme, 
and then the piano made reply. 

"It is the communing of two spirits," felt Mary, in 
her imaginative way. 

Now the piano gave forth its tender plaint, and the 
violin seemed to Mary to listen ; at one time silent, at 
another interrupting, — assenting rather, — breaking into 
low-muttered interjections of harmonious sympathy. 
And then the violin would utter its lament, finding its 
echo in the broken ejaculations that rose from beneath 
Lucy's responsive fingers; so, at least, it seemed to 
Mary. 

The quintet and the congratulations to the per- 
formers over, Mr. Whacker took pity on the thirsty 
Herr and ordered refreshments. Jones, finding among 
the rest a glass of double size, filled it and handed it 
to the 'cellist. 

" Goot !" cried he, with a luminous wink ; " I play de 
big fiddle already." 

Mary smiled, wondering what " already" could mean ; 
but she had other things to occupy her thoughts. When 
the Don rose from his seat and laid his violin upon the 
piano, she had been struck with the serenity of his 
countenance, whence the music seemed to have chased 
every cloud. He was looking for some one. Yes, it 
was for her. Catching her eye, he filled a glass, or two, 
rather, and coming to her side and taking a seat, he 
expressed the hope that she had enjoyed the music. 
. "More than I can express. You have convinced me 
that I have never heard any real music before. Do 
you know, your quintet was as pleasing to the eye as 
to the ear? You would have afforded a fine subject 
for a painter. Three young men, a lovely girl, and a 
grandfather, all bound together as one by the golden 



262 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

chains of harmony ! You can't imagine what a lovely 
picture you made." 

"Thanks!" 

"Oh," said she, smiling, "there were five of you, so 
I have paid you, at best, but one-fifth of a compli- 
ment." 

" A vulgar fraction, as it were." 

" Yes," said she, laughing ; then with eyes cast down, 
and in a hesitating voice, she added, " 1 am going to 
make a confession to you; will you promise not to 
think me very foolish ?" 

" Such an idea, I am sure — " 

"But, you know my friends all say I am so very 
sentimental, — that is to say, silly. You shake your 
head, but that is what they call me, and that is what 
it means." 

" You do j^our friends injustice ; but give me a speci- 
men, that I may judge for myself" 

" Do you promise not to agree with my friends ?" 

"Most solemnly." 

" Well, you must know there is something very 
pathetic to me about old age. The sight of an old 
man S3'mpathizing with the young, bearing up bravely 
under the ills of life and his load of years, always 
touches me to the heart. Now, you and Mr. Frobisher 
and Mr. Waldteufel — well, I need not comment on 
your appearance. Lucy — well, Lucy was just too 
lovely. She had what I call her inspired look, and 
was simply beautiful." And lifting her eyes for a 
second, — no, a second had been an age, compared with 
the duration of that glance so momentary and 5'et so 
intensely questioning, — she flashed him through and 
through. Through and through, yet saw nothing. 
The Don, felt he or not the shock of that electric 
glance, sat impassive, spoke no answer, looked no reply. 
She raised her eyes again to his. No, his look was not 
impassive ; he was simply awaiting with interest the 
rest of her story. That, at least, was all she could 
see. 

"Where was I?" she began again, driving from her 
mind, with an effort, a tumultuous throng of hopes 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 263 

and fears. "Oh I well, you gentlemen handled your 
bows gracefully, of course, and all that, and Lucy was 
irresistible" (another flash), "of— course; but the cen- 
tral figure of the picture was Mr. Whacker. Dear 
Uncle Tom ! Isn't he a grand old man ? I don't know 
why it was, but when I saw in the midst of you his 
snowy head contrasting so strongly, so strangely, with 
Lucy's youthful bloom, with thV manly vigor*^ of the 
rest, my eyes filled with tears. Was it so very fool- 
ish?" And her eyes, as she lifted them to his, half 
inquiring, half deprecatory-, were suffused afresh with 
the divine dew of sympathy. 

"Foolish!" exclaimed the Don, with a vehemence 
so sudden that it made her start, his nostrils dilating 
and a dark flush mounting even to his forehead, — 
J' foolish!" And bending over her he poured down 
into her swimming eyes a look so intense and search- 
ing that she felt that he was reading her very heart. 
" Thanks !" said he, with abrupt decision. "''Thanks !" 
Mary breathed quicker, she knew not why. The 
tension was painful. "Yes," said she, rather aimlessly, 
" and then you all looked so earnest, so serenely happy, 
so forgetful of this poor sordid world." 

"Yes," said he, musingly, "that seems to me the 
office of music,— to give rest to the weary, to smooth 
out the wrinkles from the brain and brow, to give re- 
spite ; to enable us, for a time, at least, to forget." 

He seemed to muse for a moment, then turning sud- 
denly to her with a changed expression : " It was always 
so," said he; then looking up quickly, "Do you like 
Homer ?" 

"Homer!" exclaimed she, startled by the abrupt 
transition. " I cannot say that he is one of my favorite 
authors." 

"Do you know, I cannot understand that?" 
" He is so very, very old," pleaded she, in extenua- 
tion. ^ 

"So is tlie human heart, of which he was master; 
so is the ocean, to w^hich he has been compared, — eter- 
nal movement and eternal repose. But what you said 
just now, as to the Lethean effect of music, reminded 



264 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

me of that grand scene in the Iliad, where Ulysses and 
Phoenix and Ajax go, as ambassadors of Agamemnon, 
to Achilles, with offerings and apologies for the wrong 
that has been done him. This man, whose heart was 
full of indignant shame because of the insults which 
had been heaped upon him, — who, though the bravest 
of the Greeks, had gone apart by the sea-shore to weep 
bitter tears, — him they found solacing his sorrows with 
music. But a little while ago and he had been ready 
to strike Agamemnon dead in the midst of his troops. 
What a surprise when the poet draws the curtain, 
and there flashes upon our astonished eyes the in- 
exorable, flinty-hearted captain of the Myrmidons 
seated with his friend Patroklus, peacefully singing 
to his lyre the illustrious deeds of heroes! What a 
master-stroke !" cried he, with flashing eyes. " It is 
like the sudden bursting upon the view of a green 
valley in the midst of barren rocks. And you don't 
like Homer?" 

" Oh, that is beautiful, really beautiful !" she hastened 
to say, abashed at the sentiment she had just uttered. 
" One often fails to see beauties till they are pointed 
out. Won't you talk to me some day about Homer?" 

'' Gladly," said he ; and he smiled, then almost 
laughed aloud. 

"Ah, it is really unkind to laugh at me !" 

"ISTot at all. I was laughing to think how little you 
dream what you are drawing down upon jouv head 
when you ask me to talk to you about Homer. You 
see I, too, have a little confession to make." 

" What is it?" she asked, eagerly. 

" Perhaps I should have said confidence rather than 
confession ; but, upon second thought — " 

"Oh, do tell me!" 

He hesitated. 

" I shall positively die with curiosity !" 

"If thete be any danger of that," said he, — and he 
put his forefinger and thumb in his vest-pocket and 
looked at her and smiled. 

"Well?" 

" Will you promise not to think me so very, very 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 265 

foolish?" said he, mimicking her tones of a little while 
before. And he drew an object from his pocket and 
held it up. 

"What is it,— a book?" 

" Yes, a book ;" removing from a much- worn morocco 
case a small volume. 

"Oh, yes, your Testament!" 

Mary had not forgotten what I had told of a certain 
incident that had occurred in the Don's rooms in Kich- 
mond, and had heedlessly alluded to it. 

"My Testament!" said he, with a quick, suspicious 
look. 

She felt that she had blundered; but Mary Eolfe, 
like the majority of her sex, was a woman. " Why, 
isn't it a Testament?" asked she, carelessly; "it has 
just the look of some of those little English editions." 
And she held out her hand. 

" Oh !" said the Don, looking relieved. " No, it is 
not a Testament." 

" What is it, then ?" said she, her hand still extended. 

"It is a cop3^ of the Iliad; and my little confession 
is, that I have carried it in this pocket ever so many 
years." 

" Indeed I" cried Mary, much interested. 

" So, you see, when you ask me to talk to you about 
Homer, you are getting yourself into trouble, most 
probably." 

" Let me have it." 

The Don smiled and shook his head. 

"What!" cried she, with amazement, "I may not 
touch it?" 

" Well, as a special favor, you may ; but it must not 
go out of my possession. Here, you hold that lid and 
I this. No, this way," added the Don, rising. He had 
been seated on her right ; but now placing his chair to 
her left, he held out the little volume to her, holding 
the left lid, together with a few pages, between finger 
and thumb. What could be his object in changing his 
position? Was there something written on the fly- 
leaf? She gave a quick glance at his face, but instantly 
checked herself and broke out into a merry laugh. 
M 23 



266 TEE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"How perfectly absurd!" said she. "We look, for 
all the world, like two Sunday-school children reading 
the same hymn-book! What!" exclaimed she, with 
quick interest, and looking up into his face : " The 
original Greek?" 

"Yes," replied he, quietly; "no real master-piece 
can ever be translated." 

Just then some chords were sounded on the piano, 
and the Don turned and looked in that direction. 
Mary raised her eyes and scanned his face narrowlj^ 
She was reading him afresh by the light he had just 
cast upon himself 

For her, being such as she was, this man of surprises 
had acquired a new interest. 



CHAPTEE XLIII. 

"Ladies unt shentlemens, I have de pleasure to an- 
nounce dot Miss Lucy will now favor de company mit 
a song." The Ilerr was seated at the piano, while 
Luc}^ stood by his side. 

" \V hat ! does she sing, too ?" inquired the Don, with 
interest. 

" Oh, yes ; Lucy has a very sweet voice." 

The Don sat and listened, with a pleased smile, nod- 
ding approvingly from time to time. "Not very 
strong," remarked he, when the song was ended, " but, 
as you say, sweet and sympathetic — very." 

A second ballad was called for, which Lucy gave, 
and then her mother suggested Schubert'« " Serenade." 
She had hardly sung half a dozen notes, when Mary 
noticed a peculiar expression on the Don's face. It 
was a face which, when in repose, was always grave, 
to say the least ; and there were times when it seemed 
to man}^ stern, even grim. But now as he gazed, wide- 
eyed and dreamy, upon the bank of coals before him, 
the firm lines of his features melted into an inexpressible 
softness. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 267 

"Oh, that I were a musician, to bring that beautiful 
look into his face! Lucy's fingers have stolen half his 
heart, her voice the rest." Thus sighed Mary in the 
depths of her troubled spirit. 

The Don rose softly from his seat. " Excuse me," said 
he ; and moving silently and on tiptoe across the room, 
took up his violin, placed it under his chin, and poising 
the bow over the strings, stood there waiting for a 
pause in Lucy's song. By Lucy alone, of all the com- 
pany, had these movements of the Don been unob- 
served ; and when there leaped forth, just behind her 
and close to her ear, the vibrating tones of the Guar- 
nerius, echoing her own, she gave a quick start and a 
pretty little " oh !" but turning and seeing the Don 
behind her, she beamed upon him with a radiant smile. 

"Aha, an obligato! so!" cried the Herr. "Very 
goot, very goot." And he bent him over the piano with 
renewed zeal. 

If I knew what an " obligato" was, I would toll you 
most cheerfully ; but even Charley could never get it 
into my head. It was not an accompaniment, that I 
know ; for the Herr was playing the accompaniment 
himself. 

" I tell you Venn to come in," said the Herr to Lucj^ 
who was naturally a little confused at first. " Now — 
ah — so, very goot." 

This time the Don broke in here and there upon 
Lucy's song in a fragmentary kind of way, as it seemed 
to me, and just as fancy dictated, producing a very 
weird and startling etfect ; and when the pause came 
in her score, he continued the strain in an improvisa- 
tion full of power and wild passion. " Wunderschon ! 
Ben trovato !" cried the Herr, lapsing into and out of 
his mother-tongue in his enthusiasm. 

I gave the reader to understand, when I brought 
him acquainted with Waldteufel, that he was a musi- 
cian of far greater ability than one would have ex- 
pected to find teaching in a country neighborhood ; re- 
gretfully giving the reason for this anomaly. Aroused 
now by the Don, he showed the stuff that was in him ; 
dashing off an improvisation full of feeling on the theme 



268 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

of the " Serenade." " IS'ow," said he, striking the last 
notes, "coom again, coom. Yot you got to say now?" 
he added, in challenge. 

The Don gave a slight bow to Lucy. 

"Ah, das is so, — I forgot." 

Lucy began anew, her cheeks flushed, her eyes 
sparkling with excitement, nodding approval, first to 
one, then to the other of the rival artists, as each in 
turn gave proof of his virtuosity. Schubert's " Serenade" 
is of a divine beauty, and improving upon it is like 
adding polish to Gray's "Elegy." But such considera- 
tions did not disturb our little audience. Our local 
pride was up. The stranger had been carrying every- 
thing before him, and when our honest Herr came 
back at him with a Eoland for his Oliver, as described 
above, there had been a lively clapping of hands. And 
now, first one or two, then the entire company had 
risen in a body and clustered around the performers, 
applauding and cheering each in turn, but the Herr, 
as I remember, most warmly; for few of us had ever 
heard him improvise before, and, besides, he seemed to 
deserve special encouragement for his pluck in con- 
tending with this Orpheus, newly dropped among us 
from the skies, as it were. 

Mary had not at first risen with the rest. An un- 
conquerable reserve was her most marked trait. But 
at last even she rose (not being able, perhaps, to see 
the Don from where she sat), but did not join the 
cluster that surrounded the j^iano. She stood apart, 
resting her elbow upon the mantel-piece, her cheek 
upon her hand, listening to the music, — the music half 
drowned by the fevered tattoo her own heart was beat- 
ing. For now Lucy was singing the last stanza of the 
song, and the Herr had dropped into something like 
an accompaniment, while the Don, seeing that his 
antagonist had called a truce, had reined his own muse 
down into a " second." Sustained by this and rising 
with her enthusiasm, Lucy's voice came forth with a 
power and a pathos it had not shown before; and the 
mellow Guarnerius, kindling and enkindled in turn, 
rose to a passion almost human in its intensity. And 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 269 

before Mary's eyes there seemed to float, as voice and 
violin rose and fell, and fell and rose, a vision (and it 
was her nature to dream dreams) ; there floated a 
vision as of two souls locked in eternal embrace and 
borne aloft on the wings of divinest music. 

She did not close her eyes that night ; for, to add to 
the perturbation of her spirit, Mrs. Poythress, seeing 
Charley making ready to cross the Eiver and spend the 
night under her roof, as he did every Friday, had so 
cordially invited the Don to accompany him that he, 
when the invitation was warmly seconded by Mr. Poy- 
thress and Lucy, had, after some besitation, consented 
to do so. 

He had entered the very grotto of Circe. 



CHAPTER XLIY. 



The Poytbresses were cordiality itself, ^o sooner 
bad the Don's foot crossed their threshold, than Mr. 
Poythress, taking him by the hand, gave him a warm 
welcome to Oakhurst. " Yes, you are truly welcome," 
said Mrs. Poythress, taking the otber hand ; while 
Lucy, too, smiled in hospitable assent. 

The latter has told me since that she was struck, at 
the time, with a certain something very singular in bis 
manner of meeting these courtesies. As the boat had 
neared the shore, she had observed that the Don grew 
more and more silent ; and now, in response to greet- 
ings of such marked cordiality, he had merely bowed, 
— bowed low, but without a word. " Are you cold ?" 
asked Mrs. Poythress, looking up into his face, as they 
entered the sitting-room. " Why, you are positively 
shivering! Mr. Poythress, do stir the fire. Are you 
subject to chills? No?" 

" The wind was very keen on the River," said the 
Don. He spoke with difficulty, and as he leaned over 
the fire, warming his hands, his teeth chattered. 

Charley whispered to Mrs. Poythress. 
23* 



270 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"IN'ot a drop," replied she; "you know Mr. Poy- 
thress will not allow a gill of anything of the kind to 
be kept in the house. 1 am so sorry." 

" Well, it does not matter. Do you know it is past 
one o'clock ? Suppose all of you go to bed and leave 
him to me." 

"Now," said Charley, when he and the Don were 
left alone, " let's adjourn to the dining-room and have 
a quiet pipe, after the labors of the evening. I don't 
know why it is," continued Charley, as they entered 
the room, "but fiddling—" Here Charley quickly drew 
back, as a horse when sharply reined up, with a look 
that seemed to show that his eyes had fallen upon 
some unwelcome object. The suppression of all appear- 
ance of emotion was, as we know, a foible of his. 
There was one thing, however, which he could not 
suppress ; and it was this which often betrayed him to 
his friends; to wit, his infirmity of stammering; of 
which, as I do not care either to deface my pages or to 
make sport of my friend, I shall give but sparing tj^po- 
graphical indication, leaving the rest to the reader's 
imagination. " F-f-f-f-iddling," continued he, "always 
gives me a consuming thirst for a smo-mo-mo-moke. 
By the way, thirst for a smoke strikes me as a mixed 
metaphor, but ' hunger would scarcely improve mat- 
ters. I presume that if our Aryan ancestors had 
known the divine weed, we should have had a better 
word wherewithal to express our longing for it." 

Whenever Charley began to stammer and philos- 
ophize, he always suggested to my mind a partridge 
tumbling and fluttering away through the grass; there 
was always a nest somewhere near. 

" As it is," continued he, " we must be content to 
borrow from the grovelling vocabulary of the eater and 
the drinker, leaving to civilization— there, toast your 
toes on that fender— to evolve a more fitting term." 

The Don, who had been looking serious enough be- 
fore, could not suppress a smile at this quaint sally of 
our friend,— a smile that broadened into a laugh when 
Charley, having succeeded, after a protracted struggle, 
in shooting a word from his mouth as though from a 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 271 

pop-gun, parenthetically consigned all p's and m's to 
perdition ; that being the class of letters which chiefly 
marred his utterance. 

There is, about the damning of a mere labial, a gro- 
tesque impotenc}^ that goes far towards rescuing the 
oath from profanity; and we may hope that Uncle 
Toby's accusing angel neglected to hand this one in 
for record. 

''This is very snug," said Charley, drawing together 
the ends of logs which had burned in two. 

Charley had neglected to light the lamp, but the 
logs soon began to shed a ruddy glow about the room, 
in the obscure light of which the stranger began to 
look about him, as was natural. Charley could always 
see more with his ej^es shut than I could with mine wide 
open ; but I cannot very well understand how, in that 
dimly-lighted room, he contrived to observe all that he 
pretends to have seen on this occasion; especially as 
he acknowledges that he was steadily engaged at his 
old trick of blowing smoke-rings, sighting at them 
with one eye, and spearing them with the forefinger of 
his right hand. 

The stranger did not stroll about the room with his 
hands behind his back, examining the objects on the 
sideboard, and yawning in the faces of the ancestral por- 
traits, as he might have been pardoned for doing at that 
hour, and in the absence of the ftimily. "Yes, this is 
ver}" snug," echoed he, in a rather hollow voice, while 
he glanced from object to object in the room with an 
eager interest that contrasted strangely with the im- 
mobility of his person; his almost motionless head 
giving a rather wild look to his rapidly-roving eyes. 
Presently, seeming to forget Charlej^'s presence, he 
gave vent to a sigh so deep that it was almost a groan. 
Charlej^ removed his pipe from his mouth, and with 
the stem thereof slowlj' and carefully traced a very 
exact circle just within the interior edge of one of his 
whirling smoke-wreaths, in the spinning of which he 
was so consummate an artist. 

The stranger, coming to himself with a little start, 
gave a quick glance at the sphinx beside him, who, 



272 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

with head resting on the back of his chair and eyes 
half closed, was lazily admiring another blue circle, 
that rose silently whirling in the still air. Had he 
heard the moan ? And in his embarrassment the 
stranger seized the tongs and, with a nervous pull, 
tilted over one of the logs which Charley had drawn 
together on the hearth. 

The}^ flashed into a blaze. 

"Why, hello!" exclaimed the stranger, chancing to 
cast his eye into the corner formed by the projecting 
chimney-piece and the wall. "There's a dog. He 
seems comfortable," he added, glad, seemingly, to have 
hit upon so substantial a subject of conversation. 
"That rug seems to have been made for him. Does 
he sleep there every night?" 

" That's his corner, whenever he wants it," said 
Charley, rather dryly, and without looking towards 
the dog. " Let me fill jouv pipe for you." 

Charley, somehow, did not seem anxious to talk 
about the dog, but his companion, not observing this, 
very likely, would not let the subject drop. Eising a 
little in his chair and peering into the somewhat ob- 
scure corner : " He seems to be a — a — " 

" Pointer," said Charley. " He is very old," added 
he, by way of a finisher. 

" Oh, I understand, — an old hunting-dog of Mr. Poy- 
thress's tbat he cherishes now for the good he has done 
in his day." 

This was not exactly a question, but it seemed to 
require some sort of a reply. 

"Well, yes, so one would naturally think ; but Mr. 
Poythress was never much of a Nimrod. It is Mrs. 
Poythress who claims the old fellow as her property, I 
believe." 

Charley pulled out his watch in rather a nervous 
way, looked at the time, and, thrusting it back into his 
pocket, gave a yawn. 

"What rolls of fat he has along his back I" said the 
stranger, rising, and taking a step or two in the direc- 
tion of the sleeper. 

" Yes," said Charley, rising, and knocking the ashes 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 273 

from his pipe with a few rapid taps, "it is the way 
with all old dogs." 

"Ah, I am afraid I have distui'bed the slumbers of 
the old fellow," said the Don, softly retracing his 
steps. 

"He is as deaf as a post," said Charley. 

The old pointer had raised his head, and was rocking 
it from side to side with a kind of low whimpering. 

" Speaking of slumbers," said Charley, looking at his 
watch again, and closing it with a snap, " suppose — " 

" What can be the matter with the old boy?" 

The dog was acting singularly. He had risen to his 
feet, and, with staggering, uncertain steps, was moving 
first in this direction then in that, sniffing the air with 
a whine that grew more and more intense and anxious. 

"He will soon get quiet, if we leave him." And 
Charley made two or three rapid strides towards the 
door, then stopped as suddenly", stopped and stood bit- 
ing his nails with unconscious vigor, then slowly turned, 
and, walking up to the mantel-piece, rested his elbow 
upon it and his cheek upon his hand. The attitude was 
one of repose ; but his quick breathing, his quivering 
lips, his restless eyes that flashed searchingly, again 
and again, upon the face of his companion, — these told 
a different story. 

" He is trying to find you," said the Don, with a 
sympathetic smile. " Poor old fellow, he seems blind 
as well as deaf Hello ! he is making for me. What ! 
is he in his dotage ? Whom does he take me for ?" he 
added, as the old dog, coming up to him and sniffing at 
his feet and legs with an ever-increasing eagerness, 
kept wriggling and squirming and wagging his tail 
with a vigor that was remarkable, considering his apo- 
plectic figure and extreme age. Growing more and 
more excited, the old creature tried again and again to* 
rear and place his paws upon the breast of the Don ; 
but his weak limbs, unable to sustain his unwieldy bulk, 
as often gave way ; and at last, with a despair that 
was almost human, he laid his head between the knees 
of the young man ; and rolling his bleared, opaque 
eyes, as if searching for his face, he whimpered as 



274 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

though for help. The Don looked bewildered, and 
glancing at Charley, saw him standing, motionless, 
leaning upon the mantel-piece, his eyes fixed upon the 
fire. The Don started, then bent a sudden, eager 
glance upon the dog. The latter again strove to rear 
up, but falling back upon his haunches, lifted up his 
aged head, and rolling his sightless eyes, gave forth a 
low howl so piteous as must have moved the hardest 
heart. 

It was then that the stranger, that man of surprises, 
as he had done once or twice before in the course of 
this story, revealed by a sudden burst of uncontrollable 
impetuosity the fervid temperament that ordinarily 
lay concealed beneath his studied reserve. Stooping 
forward like a flash, he lifted the dog and placed his 
paws upon his breast, sustaining him with his arms. 

It was touching to witness the gratitude of the old 
pointer, his whining and his whimpering and his eager- 
ness to lick the face that he might not behold. He was 
happ3^, let us hope, if but for a moment. Suddenly he 
fell, — fell as though stricken with heart-disease, all in a 
heap ; then tumbling over and measuring his length 
along the carpet, his head came down upon the floor 
with a thump. 

There he lay motionless, — motionless, save that every 
now and then his tail beat the floor softly, softly, and 
in a sort of drowsy rhythm, as though he but dreamt 
that he wagged it, — gently tapped the floor and ceased ; 
once more, and stopped again, and yet again ; and he 
was still. The stranger knelt over the outstretched 
form of the dying pointer. 

" Ponto ! Ponto, old boy ! Can you hear me ? Tes ? 
Then good-by, dear old fellow, good-by !" 

Deaf as he was, and breathing his last, that name 
and that voice seemed to penetrate the fast-closing 
channels of sense ; and with two or three last flutter- 
ing taps — he had no other way — he seemed to say 
farewell, and forever. 

The young man rose, and, staggering across the 
room, threw his arm over his face and leaned against 
the wall. Charley made two or three hasty, forward 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 275 

strides, then halted with a hesitating look, then spring- 
ing forward, placed a hand on either shoulder of the 
figure before him, and leaned upon his neck. 

" Dory !" whispered he, in a voice that trembled. 

A shiver, as from an electric shock, ran through the 
stalwart frame of the stranger. For a moment he 
seemed to hesitate; the next he had wheeled about, 
and, clasping his companion in his mighty arms, hugged 
him to his breast. 

"Charley!" cried he, in a broken voice; and his 
head rested upon the shoulder of his friend. 



CHAPTEK XLY. 



I GREATLY fear that when I stated, somewhere in the 
course of the foregoing narrative, that I had firmlj^ re- 
solved to exclude love-making from its pages, — I greatly 
fear that none of my readers gave me credit for sin- 
cerity. Yet it was not a stroke of Bushwhackerish 
humor; I was in sober earnest, and was never more 
convinced than at this moment of the folly of breaking 
my original resolution. Here I am with three pairs 
of lovers on my hands, — all sighing like very furnaces 
— I, who am quite incapable of managing one couple. I 
suppose I have only m3'self to blame. I assembled a 
number of young Virginians in a country house. I 
should have known better. Yet, when I brought them 
together, it was an understood thing (on my part, at 
least) that there was to be no nonsense. 

The truth is, I think I have a just right to complain 
of my characters. I had a little story to tell, — the 
simplest in the world — the merest monograph, — and I 
introduced the main body of my personages as a set- 
ting, merely; just as a jeweller surrounds a choice 
stone with small pearls to bring its color into fuller 
relief. 

And here they are, upsetting everything. 

Look at Billy, for instance. I could not have gotten 



276 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

on at all \vitbout bim. In the first place, no Christmas 
party at Ehiiington could have been complete without 
him and his jovial laugb. It would have been against 
all nature not to have invited him, and equally against 
Bill^^'s nature to have staj^ed away. But as ill luck 
would have it, his girl, though of a different county, 
must needs be of the party; but I, knowing nothing of 
this, caused him to gallop up to the Hall, tbat cold 
Christmas Eve, simply that he migbt enliven the com- 
pany with his " Arkansas Traveller" and the rest of his 
not very classic repertoire, and still more by his mem- 
orable dive under the table. Kow I like my Billy ; but 
his loves are not to our purpose. And so — for I can- 
not have the course of my story marred any longer by 
his antics — I have shipped him off to the University. 
Imagine him bursting into No. 28, East Lawn, and 
shaking his room-mate's hand to the verge of disloca- 
tion. Five or six cronies have crowded in to welcome 
the truant back (writhing, each in turn, under the grasp 
of his obtrusively honest hand). 

" No, Tom, you need not take that old gourd out of 
the box. My fiddling days are over." 

" What !" exclaimed an indignant chorus. 

" Come back solemn ?" asked Tom. " Bad luck ?" 

Billy colored a little. " Solemn ? Not I. But oh, 
boys, I have such a story to tell you ! You like to hear 
me scrape, — wh-e-e-w I" 

"What is it?" 

Jones threw back his head and gave a roar as though 
Niagara laughed. While he is telling the story of his 
discomfiture we will take our leave of him ; for as soon 
as the chorus have departed, he will begin to tell his 
friend Tom about his girl, and we have no time to 
listen to any more of that. But he is such a good fel- 
low that I think we may forgive him the delay his loves 
have cost us. 

It is somewhat harder to pardon Charley's falling in 
love so inopportunely ; but even as to him my heart 
relents when I remember that it was his first offence, 
and how penitent, how sheepish, even, were his looks, 
whenever I alluded to his fall. Let him go on casting 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 277 

out of the corners of his eyes timid, admiring glances 
at the inimitable Alice; drinking in deep, intoxicating 
draughts of her merry, laughter-spangled talk ; happy 
in her presence ; in her absence fiercely wondering why, 
in this otherwise wisely-ordered world (as ^ve Virgin- 
ians have been taught to believe it), he alone was a 
stammering idiot. Let all this go on, and more; but 
as with Jones, so with Charley, their loves must equally 
be brushed from the path of this story. 

The case of lover No. 3 presents greater difficulties. 
"When I recall certain passages of the preceding narra- 
tive, I am forced to acknowledge that, in the case of 
the Don, I have unwittingly entered into an implied 
obligation to my readers. Unwittingly, for I solemnly 
assure them that when (for instance) I described the 
gallant rescue of Alice and Lucy by the stalwart 
stranger, it did not so much as cross my mind what 
tacit promise I thereby held out. Had I been a novel- 
writer or even a novel-reader, instead of the phi- 
losopher and bushwhacker that I am, it could not 
have escaped me that by suffering two of my heroines 
to be valiantly rescued from deadl}^ peril by a hand- 
some, nay, a mysterious and hence painfully interesting 
young man, I had, in effect, signed a bond to bring 
about a marriage between the rescuer and one of the 
rescued, or both ; the more charming of the two being 
reserved for the end of the book, the less to be thrown 
in earlier as a sort of matrimonial sop to Cerberus, — 
an hymeneal luncheon, as it were. Yes, I allowed one 
of my heroes to rescue two of my heroines, Avhile a 
third gazed trembling upon the scene from her latticed 
window. Nay, worse; for whether drawn on insen- 
sibly by the current of events, or hurried thereto by 
the entreaties of my friend and collaborator, Alice, who, 
woman-like, declared that she would have nothing to 
do with my book unless I put some love in it,— whether 
inveigled, therefore, or cajoled, it is a fact that I have 
made allusion here and there, in the course of these 
pages, to such sighings and oglings and bosom-heavings 
and heart-flutterings, accompanied by such meaning 
starts and deep ineffable glances, that I am willing to 

24 



278 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

admit what Alice claims: that it would be almost an 
actual breach of faith not to tell people what it all 
meant. 

'' If you are going to write a novel, Jack" (I have 
been plain Jack since she married Charley), " why don't 
you write one and be done with it?" 

" How many times must I tell you that I am not 
writing a novel, but a philosophico-bushwhackerian 
monograph on the theme — " 

"Bushwhackerian fiddlestick!" cried Alice, impa- 
tiently, but unable to suppress a smile at the rolling 
thunder of my title. " You may write your monograph, 
as you call it, but who would read it?" 

It was during this discussion that Alice agreed to 
edit the love-passages that illumine these pages. But 
what love-passages ? After much debate we effected a 
compromise. If she would engage to spare the reader 
all save a mere allusion to the heart-pangs of the jovial 
Jones, she should have full liberty to revel through 
whole chapters in the loves of the Don. "As for your 
little affair with Charley," I added, "I agree to dress 
that up myself" 

" Indeed, indeed. Jack, if you were to put Mr. Fro- 
bisher and myself in your book — and — and — make 
him—" 

" Make him — " (Here I smiled.) 

"You know, you villain!" 

" Stammer forth praises of your loveliness?" 

"You dare!" 

And so we are reduced to a single pair of lovers : 
the Don and — 



CHAPTEE XLYI. 



But he was enough. At the period at which we are 
now arrived, his conduct became more perplexing than 
ever. The neighborhood was divided into two camps, 
one maintaining that Mary found favor in his eyes, the 
other that Lucy and music had carried the day. Most 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 219 

of the gentlemen were of the latter party. They 
pointed out his frequent visits across the Eiver, the 
hours he spent playing for or Avith her, his obvious 
efforts to win the good-will of her mother. Some few 
of the girls were on our side ; and I remember that 
they, at times, commented with some asperity on the 
alleged court that the Don paid Mrs. Poythress, — rather 
plainly signifying that in their case a swain would find 
it to his interest to make love to them rather than to 
their mothers. But a majority of the girls, headed by 
Alice, scouted the idea of the Don's being enamoured 
of the gentle Lucy ; the difference between their party 
and that of the men being that they could give no rea- 
son for the faith that was in them. They thought so 
— they knew it — well, we should see — persisted they, in 
their irritating feminine way. 

As a natural result of this state of things, there 
arose among us a sort of anti-Don party. His popu- 
larity began to wane. What did he mean by playing 
fast and loose with two girls? Why did he not declare 
himself for one or the other? Who was he, in fact? 

But against this rising tide of disapprobation Charley 
was an unfailing bulwark. It was obvious to all that 
a close intimacy had sprung up between Frobisher and 
the Don. They were continually taking long walks 
together. Secluded nooks of porches became their 
favorite resting-places. The murmur of their voices 
was often to be heard long after the rest of the family 
had retired for the night. Charley, therefore, gave this 
suspicious character the stamp of his approval, and that 
approval sustained him in our little circle. I say our 
little circle, though I, of course, had long since returned 
to Richmond, and my supposed practice at the bar. 
Fortunately for the reader, Alice remained on the 
scene ; else where had been those delicious love-pas- 
sages that are in store for us ? 

Of all this circle, Alice was most eager to ascertain 
the actual state of the Don's sentiments. Nor was 
hers an idle curiosity. Her penetrating eye^ had not 
failed to pierce the veil of bravado bj^ which Mary had 
souo-ht to hide her heart from her friend. But did he 



280 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

love her^ She believed so, — believed half in dread, 
half in hope. Now was the time to learn something 
definite. 

For the Poythresses had given a dinner, and she and 
Charley were promenading up and down the Oakhurst 
piazza. Presently, there sounded from the parlor the 
" A" on the piano, followed by those peculiar tones of a 
violin being tuned, — tones so charminglj^ suggestive, to 
lovers of music, so exasperating to others. 

"Ah, they are going to play!" said my grandfather, 
quickly; and he turned to go into the parlor, followed 
by all of the promenaders save Charley and Alice, who 
still strode to and fro, arm in arm. 

" They are going to play," repeated he, as he got to 
the door, turning and nodding to Charley, and then 
passed briskly within. 

At this some of the girls smiled, and Charley red- 
dened, poor fellow, and bit his lip; while Alice gazed, 
unconscious, at two specks of boats in the distance. 

Suddenly Mr. Whacker reappeared, thrusting his 
ruddj' countenance and snowy hair between the fair 
heads of two girls who were just entering the door, — a 
pleasing picture. 

"The Kreutzer Sonata!" he ejaculated at Charley, 
and disappeared. 

At this the two girls fairly giggled aloud, and, dart- 
ing Parthian glances at Alice, tumbled through the 
hall into the parlor. 

" What merry, thoughtless creatures we girls are !" 
said Alice, removing her gaze from the specks of sails. 

"Yes, and no fellow can find out, half the time, what 
you are laughing about, — or thinking about, for the 
matter of that." 

"What! do you deem us such riddles, — you who, 
they say, can read one's thoughts as though we were 
made of glass ?" 

" I ? And who says that of me, pray ?" 

" Everybody says it. / say it," she added, with a 
smile of saucy defiance. 

" I read people's thoughts 1" 

" Do you disclaim the gift ?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 281 

"Even to disclaim it would be preposterously vain." 

Charley would have avoided that word " preposter- 
ous" had he bethought him, in time, how many p's it 
contained. His face was red when he had stumbled 
and floundered through it, and his eyes a trifle stern. 
He had been a stammerer from boyhood, but of late 
his infirmity had begun to annoy him strangely. 

" Then, modest young man, I suppose you have yet 
to learn the alphabet of mind-reading?" 

"Yes, — that is, women's minds." 

" Women's minds ? Do you think that we are harder 
to read than men? Do you think, for example, that 
people find it harder to see through such an unsophis- 
ticated girl as myself than such a deep philosopher as 
you?" 

"You? Why, you are an unfathomable m-m-m- 
mystery ?" (" Confound it !") ^^^ — w>-^r^%. 

"The idea! I a mystery? And tliis from you, un- 
readable sphinx!" 

" Yes, and unfathomable I Why, I have no idea what 
you think upon the — upon — well, all sorts of subjects." 

Charley caressed with a shy glance the toes of his 
boots, and felt red. 

" Indeed ? How strange !" And she gazed upon the 
dots of boats and felt pale. 

"Yes; for example, I have often wondered what 
in fact, for example, you thought, for instance, of — of 
— of — me, for instance. Oh, no, no, of course not, I 
beg your pardon ; of course I never imagined for a 
moment, of course not, that you ever thought of me at 
all, in fact. What I mean is, that whenever you did 
think of me, — though I presume you never did for an 
instant, of course, — I mean that if by chance, when 
you had nothing else to think about, and I happened 
to pass by — Ob, Lord !" cried Charley, clasping in his 
hand his burning brow. 

What is the matter with my people? Chatterbox 
reduced to monosyllables, and tlie Silent Man pouring 
forth words thick as those that once burst from the 
deep chest of TJlj'sses of many wiles ; and they, as we 
all know, thronged thick as flakes of wintry snow. 

24* 



282 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"Don't you think I am an idiot? Have you the 
least doubt of it?" exclaimed the poor fellow, with 
fierce humility. 

Alice gave a little start and looked up. 

"A confounded stammering idiot?" 

"Mr. Frobisher!" 

He didn't mean it. Charley could never have done 
such a thing on purpose; but his left arm suddenly 
threw off all allegiance to his will, and actually pressed 
a certain modest little dimpled hand against his heart 
so hard that it blushed to the finger-tips. Alice looked 
down with quickened breath, slackened pace ; but Char- 
ley swept her forward with loftier stride, drawing in 
mighty draughts of air, and glaring defiance at the 
universe. He did not, however, stride over the railing at 
the end of the piazza. Taking advantage of the halt — 

"Strange!" said Alice, in a low voice; "do j-ou know 
that I, too, have often wondered what you thought of 
me? Seeing you sitting, silent and thoughtful, while 
I was rattling on in my heedless way, I often wondered 
whether you did not think me a chatterer destitute as 
well of brains as of heart. No? Eeally and truly? 
You are very kind to say so!" 

"Kind!" exclaimed Charley. "Kind! * * 

* * * * * * ifi. H:" 

""^ * * *" said Alice, looking down — "* 

* Jis * * * " 

"* * *" continued Charley, "* * * 

yes, * * first and only * * Richmond 

* * very first moment * * never again 

* * dreaming and waking * * despair 

* * torments of the * * * h^ abyss!" 

"* * * mere passing fancy ? * as ever 
were caught out of it. * * Richmond * week 

* * * out of sight, out of ^ *." 

"* * * ey, fiercely, * * * ^hile 
life * yonder river flows down to the sea * 

* * by all that's * * never * * * 

so long as the stars ***** ^o, 
never!" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 283 

" * * * naturally enough * * country- 
house * * * passing whim * absence 

* * * another dear cliarmer * * effaced." 
"No * * graven * * indelible * * 

revolve upon its axis * * * * sheds her 
light * * * * shall beat * * * 
obliterated !" 

"* * * others * * vows * before 

* and yet * * * woman's confiding nature 

* * forgotten." 

"* * * then if * * bid me * not 

* altogether * * permit me * * * 
absolute aversion * * * grow into * * 
time * * * fidelity * * * * ray 
of hope ?" 

"* * * so totally unexpected," [Oh! ! ! 
J. B. W.'\ " * * * breath away with surprise 

* * * my own mind * * test * 

* * * both of us * * for the present 

* * as though not said." 

"* *" said he"* * * absolute dislike?" 

" * * * " dropping her eyes, " * * * 
cannot altogether deny * * at times * 
acknowledge * * * perhaps * *." 

Here the cooing of these turtle-doves was interrupted. 

" The adagio is about to begin !" [Does the learned 
counsel allude, when he speaks of the "adagio," to 
the andante con variazioni of Beethoven's so-called 
Kreutzer Sonata, — A major. Opus 47? But did a 
lawyer ever count for anything outside of his briefs? 
Ch. Frobisher."^] 

" The adagio be — " thought Charley, with a flash of 
heat; but reined himself back on that modest Httle 
verb ; so that no man will ever know what ho intended 
to think. [A thousand pities, too, for as his mind, 

* Reading the final proofs of this book, I find, bracketed into the 
text, sundry satirical observations at my expense; signed, some l^y 
Charley, others by Alice, who had undertaken to relieve me of the 
drudgery of the first proofs. Rather than bother the printer, I have 
suffered many of them to remain — for what they are worth ! — J. B. W. 
[And I sufi"er this astounding note to remain for what it is worth. — Ed.] 



284 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

though originally sound, never had the advantage of 
legal training, 'tis a recreation that he treats it to but 
seldom. J. B. TF.] 

My grandfather has passed out of the parlor on tip- 
toe, to make this announcement; though why on tip- 
toe (there being an intermission in the music) I leave 
to psychologists to determine. 

The two giggling girls had popped into seats near 
the door; and when they saw him moving past them, 
bent on his errand of mercy (Charley was not to miss 
the adagio), they fell upon each other's necks and 
wept sunny tears. 

"Poor Mr. Frobisher!" gasped one. 

" Isn't it too cruel !" gurgled the other. 

Presently Mr. Whacker returned, looking rather dis- 
concerted. Charley had said, " In a moment. Uncle 
Tom ;" but his flushed face, and his voice, pitched in a 
strange key, as it were, rather upset his old friend ; 
and he had retreated rather precipitately, a little 
troubled in mind (he knew not why), but none the 
wiser for what he had seen. 

" Won't they come in to hear the adagio ?" asked one 
of the gigglers. The little hypocrite had brought her 
features under control with an effort, and had even 
managed to throw into her voice an accent of sympa- 
thetic solicitude. 

"Not even to hear the adagio!" echoed her pal, 
with reproachful emphasis. 

" They seem to be engaged," said Uncle Tom, simply. 

At this the gigglers giggled uproariously. 

" The simpletons !" sighed my grandfather, bending 
upon them a look wherein the glory of his dark eyes 
was veiled with a gentle pathos that ever dimmed 
them when he looked upon happiness and youth. 
"Laugh w^hile you may! You will have plenty of 
time for tears in the journey of life, poor things. In 
this poor world, my daughters, the height of foolishness 
is often the summit of wisdom. Laugh on." And he 
placed his hands upon their sunny heads, as though to 
bless them and to avert the omen. And they, with one 
accord, arose, and, throwing around his neck a tangle 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 285 

of shining arnns, stood on tiptoe and kissed him. And 
he went his way, none the wiser, — went his way in 
that simplicity of age which is more touching than that 
of childhood; since it has known once — and forgotten. 
And between his departing form and their eyes, that 
laughed no longer, there arose a mist that seemed to 
lend a tender halo to his gray hairs — and they blessed 
him in turn. 

" Mr. Frobisher," said Alice, halting in front of the 
door, " I think we should go in." 

" Go in ?" repeated Charley, with a rather dazed 
look. 

Things were so interesting on the piazza ! 

"Yes, we must!" 

Could he be mistaken ? No, there was an unmis- 
takable something in that pull upon his arm that said, 
Come with me. 

"Not now; just one brief moment!" 

" Yes, now. We might hurt Uncle Tom's feelings." 

" We!" Did she mean it? Charley gave a quick, 
inquiring glance. She raised her eyes and met his with 
a kind of shrinking frankness. 

"You say," said Charley, "that we must go in to 
hear the adagio ; but — tell me — -just one little word : 
while the}^ are playing that, may my heart beat in the 
frolic rhythm of the scherzo?" 

She made no reply, nor raised her head; but the 
same gentle pull upon his arm seemed to say, — and 
plainer than before, — Come ivith me, 

" Tell me, dearest ?" 

"Oh, don't bother people so!" 

Then, for the first time, her face, pallid before, was 
Bufi'used with a sudden glory of roses. 



286 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTEE XLYII. 

The reader can hardly be more amazed at the last 
chapter than is the writer, — amazed not so much at its 
contents as at its existence. I agree, at the close of 
the forty-fifth chapter, to exchide all save the loves of 
the Don from these pages, and then devote the whole 
of the forty-sixth to the amours of Charley and Alice ! 
I break a promise almost in the act of making it. 
Some explanation seems proper, and one lies close at 
hand. 

Your modern Genius is an out-and-out business man. 
He may be trusted to furnish his publisher just so many 
chapters, just so many pages, paragraphs, lines, words, 
as shall precisel}^ fill the space allotted him in the maga- 
zine. Nor baker with his loaves, nor grocer with his 
herring, could be more exact. Pegasus no longer 
champs his bit, as of old, nor paws the earth. He goes 
in shafts, in these days, and is warranted not to kick 
in harness. He trots u]) to your front door, goods are 
delivered, and he jogs off to another customer, his flanks 
cool, no foam upon rein. 

Now, I, being a mere Bushwhacker, bestride, of 
course, an untrained, shaggy mustang, — an animal 
sorely given to buck-jumping and to unaccountable 
bursts in every direction save along the beaten track. 
And how, pray, am I to know, astride such a disre- 
putable prairie-Pegasus, whither I am going, and how 
liar ; and when, if ever, I may hope to return ? 

The average reader would probably accept this 
apology, but as I am (in a small way) a disciple of 
Epaminondas (who, as every school-boy knows, would 
not fib, even in jest), I shall not offer it in palliation of 
my conduct. The true explanation (and therefore the 
only one that that unique Grecian would have thought 
of giving) is to be found in the rather peculiar way in 
which this stor}^ is being written. 

The romantic among my readers doubtless picture 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 287 

me to themselves seated in my arm-chair, my feet en- 
cased in embroidered slippers, my graceful person (for 
they did not believe me when I admitted that I ^vas 
fat) wrapped in the folds of a rich dressing-gown. My 
intellectual brow^ is half shaded by my long hair, half 
illumined by the pale light of the midnight lamp. 
Meantime, with upturned eyes I await inspiration. 

This, though a pretty enough picture, is not such as 
would have earned the approval of the hero who first 
taught the Spartans how to yield ; for, on the con- 
trar}^, this tale, so far, has been put together in a very 
different fashion — and as follows : 

Whenever Charley and Alice are accessible to me, — 
when, that is, either they are spending a few weeks in 
Richmond, or I can run down to Leicester for a little 
holiday, — it is understood that we three are to get to- 
gether, alone, of course, and at such hours as w^e are 
least liable to interruption. The door is then locked 
(never double-locked, — to Alice's great regret, — for she 
says that this precaution is invariable in novels ; but, 
for the life of us, none of the three could ever find out 
how to double-lock a door), and we begin talking over 
those old times, Alice and Charley doing most of it. 
For, as the reader may recall, either one or the other 
of them Avas an eye-witness of most of the scenes de- 
picted in this volume. My part in the transactions is 
simple. From time to time 1 contribute some little in- 
cident which may have come within my personal 
knowledge ; but, as a rule, I confine myself to taking 
notes ; by the aid of which, I, in my leisure moments, 
draw up, between meetings, as clear a narrative as I 
can ; and this being submitted to my coadjutors, is 
brought into its final shape by the combined efforts of 
the trio. 

This method of composition explains, though I fear 
it will not excuse, what many readers will deem a grave 
defect in our joint production. Confined to what either 
Alice or Charley or myself saw or heard with our mere 
outward ej^es or ears, there was -obviously no place in 
these pages for any of that subtle analysis of thoughts, 
that deep insight into feelings, that far-reaching pene- 



288 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

tration into the inmost recesses of the mind and heart, 
that marks modern Genius. 

But it is just on this point that Charley and I have 
had battle after battle with Alice. She will insist on 
Insight, on Analysis. People must be told, by the 
ream, what Mary felt, what the Don thought ; and she 
cites novel after novel to fortify her position. 

" Why do you bring up those books," said Charley, 
one day. "Are we writing a novel, pray? We are 
writing, as I understand it, a — by the way, Jack- 
Whack, what are we writing — for instance ?" 

"A symph — " 

" Exactly so ! We are composing a Symphonic 
Monograph, — precisely. Now show me, in the whole 
range of literature, one solitary instance of a writer 
of symph — ic — graphs — " 

Charley was not stammering. He has of late years 
almost entirely freed himself from this infirmity. The 
verbal fragments above represented escaped from al- 
ternate corners of his mouth, Alice having dammed the 
main channel of utterance in the most extraordinary 
manner, [It was a way she had. During the com- 
position of this entire work, whenever Charley has 
seemed on the point of saying something that she was 
pleased to consider humorous, she would fly at him in 
the most barefaced manner, shaking with laughter, 
and cut him off. Then Charley glances at me, and 
tries to frown : " Oh, it is nobody but Jack," says she.] 

" Besides," went on Charley, without even wiping 
his lips, " you know perfectly well, Alice, that you al- 
ways skip that stuff. Look me in the eyes," said he, 
seizing her firmly by the wrist, — " look me in the eyes 
and deny it !" 

" Yes, but I am but a plain body, without pretensions; 
whereas people of ideas, of culture, you know — " 

"Then you admit that where you come to pages, 
solid pages of Insight, you incontinently skip them for 
those passages where the characters are either acting 
or speaking ? Is it not so, you little humbug ?" 

" But should we not always seek the praise of the 
judicious ?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 289 

" Oh, the Bimplicity of your soul, to imagine that 
we are making a book for the edification of the wise I 
As I understand it, Jack-\Vhacl<:, it is composed ex- 
clusively for the delectation of — " 

Alice held up her hand. 

" Of the majority," added Charley. [Interruption, 
remonstrance, confusion. ''Pshaw! who minds Jack?"] 

" The fact is," resumed Charley, with traces of a 
hypocritical frown still lingering on his features, — 
"the fact is, all that kind of stuff which you profess to 
admire, but confess you never read, reminds one of the 
annotations of the classics for schools. They are not 
intended to instruct the boys, but are written by one 
pedant to astound other pedants. By the way. Jack, 
a capital idea strikes me. It will give our book such a 
taking and original air. Suppose we go through it 
from beginning to end, and simply cut out all the 
skipienda, — every line of it, — and leave only what is 
intended to be read ?" 

" And then publish it in the kingdom of Liliput ?" 
inquired Alice. 

This, then, my reader, is the way we talk while wo 
write this story; some account of which I thought 
might interest you ; and it was after a discussion like 
that just recorded that we three agreed (by a strictly 
party vote of two to one) that our lovers must, for the 
rest of the book, be reduced to a single pair. We 
reached this decision at the conclusion of our labors 
on the forty-fifth chapter. We also settled it to our 
own satisfaction, that by the time our future readers 
had reached this stage in our story, they would proba- 
bly be consumed with curiosity to know whether it 
was Lucy or Mary, that, with the Don, was to con- 
stitute that favored pair. The fact is, it had now be- 
gun to dawn upon us that (although we knew better) 
we had actually given the supposed reader some right 
to look upon our mysterious hero as an emissary from 
Utah. So putting our heads together, we decided that 
it was time that he showed his colors. With a view to 
forwarding this end, therefore, I requested Alice and 
Charley to give me some account of a certain inter- 
im t 25 



290 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

view Lad between them, when the former had en- 
deavored to discover from him which of the two girls 
had captured the Don. For Ahce had often told me 
that she had made up her mind, on the night before 
that dinner at Oakhurst, to make an attack on the 
redoubtable Mr. Frobisher on that day, with this in- 
formation in view. And she had formed this resolution 
owing to something that had occurred between Mary 
and herself. 

It appears that on the night previous to this dinner, 
that reserve which Mary had shown Alice ever since 
the Don had crossed her path had suddenly given way. 
The two girls had gone to bed together, as was their 
wont. The Don's visits to Oakhurst had been growing 
in frequency, and it was understood that this dinner 
was given in his honor. 

" What, aren't you asleep 3^et ?" said Alice. 

"No," said Mary. Something in her voice touched 
her friend. 

" You must not lie awake in this way," said Alice. 
And she began to pass her fingers across Mary's fore- 
head and through her hair. 

It was a simple action, but Mary broke down under 
it. Throwing her arms around her life-long friend, 
she pressed her convulsively to her bosom, and hiding 
her face in her pillow, wept in silence. After a while 
they began to talk, and they talked all night, as I am 
told that sex and age not unfrequently do. Alice arose 
next morning with a fixed doLermination to unravel 
the mystery that was giving her friend so much pain. 
Mr. Frobisher could make things plain, if he would. 
But would he? At any rate, she would try; for she 
was a plucky little soul. And so, when Charley had 
offered her his arm, that day, after dinner, for a prom- 
enade on the piazza, she felt that she had her oppor- 
tunity. But it would appear that Charley had been 
looking for an opportunity himself; and so, the other 
day, when I asked this couple to let me have an ac- 
count of the matter, with a view to the forty-sixth 
chapter of the Symphonic Monograph, it leaked out 
that Master Charles had, on this occasion, taken up 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 291 

Alice's time not in telling her whom the Don loved, 
but whom Charles adored. This discovery, coming 
upon me so suddenly, upset my determination to ex- 
clude the loves of Charley and Alice from" our story, 
and I called for an account of the courtship. For I 
felt assured that an authentic account of the first and 
onl}^ love-making of Charles The Silent would be the 
most delicious morsel in the whole Monograph. But 
at the merest allusion to such a thing, Alice blushed in 
the most becoming w^ay ; and w^hen Charley, clearing 
his throat and putting on a bold look, made as though 
be were about to begin, her face became as scarlet; 
and rising from her seat she gave him the most digni- 
fied look that I have ever seen in those merry-glancing 
hazel eyes. Thereupon Charley and I laughed so 
heartily that Alice saw that she had been taken in by 
her husband's serious face. "I thought not!" said she, 
laughing in turn. But the idea of a chapter given to 
the amours of Charles The Silent and Alice The Merry 
had seized upon my mind with so strong a fascination 
that I could not shake it off; and, as soon as I reached 
my bachelor quarters that night, I seized m}^ pen. My 
eyes were soon in a fine phrensy rolling, I presume; 
for in the forty-sixth, or Galaxy Chapter, as I call it, 
from the numerous stars with w^hich it is bespangled, 
distinct traces of Genius may be detected by the prac- 
tised eye (with my assistance). 

What I mean is, that chapter was composed in the 
manner in which true Creative Genius is in the habit 
of composing, as I understand ; made, that is, out of 
the whole cloth, — woven of strands of air. But even 
here, though mounted on a genuine (though borrowed) 
eartjj -spurning Pegasus, I have not swerved far from 
the line that the great Boeotian would have marked 
out for me. Charley's courtship was quite real. It was 
the words only that I have had to invent, left in the 
lurch as I w^as bj^ my two collaborators. And I was 
going to add that, in all probability, Charley made use 
of not one of those I have put in his mouth, when I 
recalled a coincidence so singular that I feel that the 
reader is entitled to hear of it. When I read to my 



292 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

coadjutors my version of their amours, their merriment 
was uproarious. Charley, I may mention, who only 
smiled when he was a bachelor, has, since his marriage, 
grown stout and taken to laughing. So far as he was 
concerned, my putting the word "abyss" in his mouth 
was the master-stroke of the whole chapter. 

"Why," said he, choking with laughter, "I am sure 
I never made use of the word in my whole life 1" 

" Neither had you ever before in your life made love 
to a girl," I objected. 

"Don't be too sure of that!" said Charley, with a 
knowing look. 

" H'm !" put in Alice. 

"What makes the thing so truly delicious," said 
Charley, " is the lachrymose and woe-begone figure 
you make me cut ; whereas — " 

" Ah ?" said Alice, bridling up. 

" Whereas a chirpier lover than — " 

"Chirpy! oh!" 

" Why, Jack-Whack, if she did not love me the very 
first time she ever saw me, — love f — if she did not dote 
upon — " 

" Dote indeed ! Yery vrell ! very well ! He felt sure, 
did he? Now, Jack, I'll leave it to you. I'll tell you 
just what he said, and let you decide whether they 
were the words of a ' chirpy' lover. Chirpy, indeed ! 
Mr. Frobisher, you are too absurd ! AYe were walking 
up and down the piazza, and I had on my green and 
white silk dress, — plaid, you know ; and he said — the 
first thing he said was — I remember it as well as if it 
Lad been yesterday — " 

I drew forth my pencil. Here, after all, providentially 
as it were, we were to have an authentic version of the 
amours of the silent man and her of the merry-glancing 
hazel eyes. 

" My dear," began Charley, with nervous haste, " we 
are interrupting Jack ; let him go on with his reading." 

"Aha!" cried Alice, in triumph, "I thought — " 

Here Alice detected Charley giving me, with his off 
eye, a wink so huge that its corrugations (like waves 
bursting over a breakwater) scaled the barrier of his 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 293 

nose and betrayed what the other side of his face was 
at. 

Charley ducked his head just in time ; and immedi- 
ately thereafter began a series of dextrous manoeuvres 
among the chairs and other furniture in the room, in 
evading Alice's persistent efforts to smooth out some 
of the wrinkles that wicked wink had wrought. At 
last he tumbled into his seat rather blown, and with 
one cheek redder than the other. 

Amid such scenes as this has this tale been tacked 
together. Can the reader wonder at its harum-scarum 
way of getting itself told ? Am I not driving a team 
of mustangs ? 

" They are all alike," puffed Charley ; " they love us to 
distraction, but we must not know it. Go on, my boy." 

I read on amid much hilarity; and it was such re- 
ception of this solitary effort of my individual muse 
that induced me to retain it in the body of the work. 
At last we came to the passage where occurred the 
coincidence to which I have alluded. 

In my fabulous and starry account of the billing and 
cooing on the piazza, I make Charley ask, 3Iay my 
heart beat in the frolic rhythm of the scherzo f This — for 
why should 1 hide my harmless self-content from my 
friend, the reader? — this I don't deny that I thought 
a very neat and unhackneyed way of asking a girl 
whether she gave you leave to consider j'ourself a 
happy dog. It was my little climax, and — I confess it 
— my heart fluttered a little as I drew near the passage, 
in anticipation of the plaudits I trusted to receive. 

No clapping of hands. A dead silence, rather ; and 
looking up, I saw my friends staring at one another. 

" What's the matter ?" asked I, a little sheepishly. 
" I rather thought," I stammered, " that — that that was 
— not so bad ?" 

" Mr. Frobisher, I am astonished at you !" [At that 
period it was not usual for Virginia wives to call their 
husbands by their Christian names,] 

" Indeed, my dear — " 

" You need not say one word I I should not have 
thought it of you, that's all !" 

25* 



294 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" But, Alice—" 

"Why, what's the matter?" asked I, bewildered. 

" Oh, nothing I" said Alice, with a toss of her head. 

"Jack-Whack, I'll tell youj she thinks I have been 
blabbing to you." 

"Thinks!" 

"But I have not!" 

" Do you mean to tell me that Jack, without a hint 
from you — actually — " she hesitated. 

" ' Frolic rhythm of the scherzo !' " I shouted, in joy- 
ous derision ; " and you positively used that phrase, 
you sentimental old fraud !" 

Charley turned very red, — redder still, when Alice, 
relieved of the suspicion that he had been revealing 
their little love-mysteries, laughed merrily at his dis- 
comfiture. 

" It was not quite so b-b-b-b-ad as that. I admit the 
' scherzo' part ; b-b-b-ut ' frolic rhythm' ! I was not so 
many kinds of an idiot as that amounts to." 

And so — I swear it by the shades of Epaminondas 
— I had actually hit upon the very word, — and truth is 
again stranger than fiction. 



CHAPTER XLVIII. 

Time was pressing. In another week these long- 
continued and long-to-be-remembered Christmas fes- 
tivities would come to an end. Yesterday, Alice had 
failed to extract any information from Charley. To- 
day, she would make another effort. 

Opportunities were not lacking, — abundant opportu- 
nities. Somehow, everything had changed. Yesterday, 
wherever Alice was, there was a cluster of merry fiaces. 
To-day, her mere appearance upon the piazza seemed 
to dissipate the groups that chanced to be sitting there. 
One by one, on one pretext or another, the young peo- 
ple would steal away ; and it was astounding how often 
Charley constituted the sole social residuum. Charley 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 295 

thought it famous luck ; but Alice detected distinct 
traces of design in this sudden avoidance of her 
society. " They seem to be engaged," — she knew that 
innocent phrase of Uncle Tom's was passing from 
mouth to mouth, and it annoyed her; for, at the 
period in question, it was fashionable for our Virginia 
girls to be ashamed of being engaged; and so deep- 
rooted was this feeling, that whereas we are assured 
by Cornelius Xepos that Epaminondas was such a lover 
of truth that he would not lie even in jest — but enough 
of the virtuous Theban — 

Alice, then, being superior neither to her sex nor to 
her age, as I am glad to say, was half vexed at being 
so constantly left alone with Charley, — yet half willing 
to be so vexed. There was an innuendo, it is true, iu 
the very absence of her companions ; but then the solt 
rubbish that Charley was pouring into her pink ear! 

Of all passions, love is the most selfish ; not except- 
ing hunger and thirst. Yesterday, Alice had been 
eager to speak with Charle}^, alone, in the interests of 
her friend Marj'. To-day she has already had three 
talks with him ; and although he had given her noth- 
ing more to do than to listen to the conjugation of one 
little verb, she had not thought of Mary once. Left 
together for the fourth time, they were sitting on the 
piazza ; and Charley, having already exhausted and 
re-exhausted the other tenses, was about to tackle the 
pluperfect, — that is to say, having persuaded himself 
that it was true, he was beginning to explain to Alice 
how it was that, before he had ever seen her, and 
merely from what he had heard of her, etc., etc., etc. 
[Fib! Alice F.'] Just at this juncture, Mary brushed 
past them. Charley raising his eyes and seeing in 
Mary's a casual, kindly smile, returned it with interest, 
— the happy dog! Alice raised hers, and seeing the 
casual, kindl}' smile, — and more, — looked grave. 

" What is the matter?" asked Charley. 

Compared with your infatuated lover, your hawk is 
the merest bat. 

Alice rose. " I want to have a talk with you. Let 
us walk down to ' the Fateful.' " 

25* 



296 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" The Fateful" — " Fateful Argo," to give the name in 
full — had been christened by Billy. It was neither 
more nor less than a large and strongly-built row-boat, 
which had been hauled up on the shore; and being old 
and leaky, had been abandoned there. It had become 
imbedded in the sand, and being protected from the 
wind by a dense clump of low-growing bushes, was a 
very pleasant resting-place for the romantic, in sunny 
winter weather. It has been sung that Yenus sprang 
from the waves. The truth of the legend I can neither 
deny nor affirm ; but it is cert-ain that their gentle 
splashing had a strange intoxication for many a couple 
that ventured to take their seats in this " Fateful Argo." 

Alice took her seat in the stern, and Charley (although 
there were several other seats in good repair) sat beside 
her. 

I think it will be allowed me that no book was ever 
freer than this from satirical reflections upon women 
(or, in fact, freer from reflections of every sort upon 
any and all subjects) ; but I am constrained to observe, 
just here, that it seems to me that they have, at times, 
a rather inconsequential way of talking. That is, you 
cannot always tell, from what they have just said, 
what is coming next. 

" I have asked you," began Alice, " to come with me 
to this retired spot that I may have a talk with you. 
I have a favor to — Mr. Frobisher, you must be beside 
yourself! And the piazza full of people !" [Shades of 
Epaminondas ! A. Frobisher.'] 

That's what I complain of. When they begin a sen- 
tence, you never know how it is going to end. 

" On the contrary, — thank heaven ! — I am beside 
you." 

" But you won't be beside me long, if you don't be- 
have yourself. Don't, — oh, don't I Are you crazy f 

" Perfectly, — and glad of it," replied Charley, with 
brazen resignation. 

" Well, then." And with a supple grace disengaging 
herself from his proximity, so to speak, she whisked 
away to the seat in front. 

That's the reason I always did love women. Their 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 297 

memories are so short. No matter how angry they 
may be, if you will watch them while they are scolding 
you, you will see that they are forgiving you as fast as 
they can. 

"You are perfectly outrageous!" said Alice; at the 
same time readjusting her collar, — and with both hands, 
— just to show how dreadfully provoked she was. 

" Outrageous ? Presently you will be calling me 
Argo-naughty," said Charley. [This is too bad! I 
never made one in my life. Chs. FJ] 

Alice had purposed looking indignant for two or 
three consecutive seconds, but surprised by this totally 
unexpected sally, she burst out laughing. She had 
opened her batteries on the enemy, but, by ceasing to 
fire, she had revealed the exhaustion of her ammunition ; 
and he, so far from being stampeded, showed symptoms 
of an advance. As a prudent captain, all that was left 
her was to retire. She took the seat next the prow. 
The enemy seized the vacated position. 

•' That seat is very rickety." 

"So I perceive," remarked the enemy, rising and 
advancing. 

" Oh, but there is not room on this for two. Go back 
to the stern." And she threw out skirmishers. 

The now exultant foe grasped one of the skirmish- 
ers in both his : " You will forgive me ?" 

"Oh, I suppose so, if you will go back to your seat, 
and behave yourself. Let go my hand." 

" You have promised it to me." 

"Yes, but indeed, Mr. Frobisher, the girls on the 
piazza — " 

" The piazza is nearly a hundred yards away, bless 
its heart!" 

" Indeed, indeed — there now !" she suddenly added, 
with a stamp of her foot, " I told you so !" 

When? When did she tell him so? That's another 
reason I could never make a woman out. 

It was then that Charley heard the sound of heavy 
footsteps crunching through the sand, and, turning his 
head, saw through the twilight an approaching figure 
almost at his elbow. 



298 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Alice, like most, though not all of her sex, was, as I 
have mentioned before, a woman. Kaising her placid 
face and serene eyes, she pointed out to her companion, 
with the tip of her parasol, a gull that hurried above 
them in zigzag, onward flight. "Yes," continued she, 
— or seemed to continue, — " she seems to be belated. 
I wonder where she will roost to-night? On some 
distant island, I suppose." 

" Sam, is that you? Sam is one of my men, — one of 
the best on my farm. Sam, this is Miss Alice — Miss 
Alice Carter." 

" Sarvant, mistiss," said Samuel, hastily removing 
his hat and bowing, not without a certain rugged grace ; 
while at the same time, by a backward obeisance of his 
vast foot, he sent rolling riverward a peck of shining 
sand. 

" Well, Sam, any news from the farm ?" 

" Lor', mahrster, d'yar never is no news over d'yar ! 
I most inginerally comes over to Elminton when a- 
sarchin' for de news." 

"And you want to make me believe that you walk 
over here every night for the news, do you ? Sam is 
courting one of Uncle Tom's women," added Charley, 
addressing Alice. " I am in daily expectation of having 
him ask my consent to his nuptials." 

Sam threw back his head and gave one of those 
serene, melodious laughs (as though a French horn 
chuckled), the like of which, as I have said before, will 
probably never again be heard on this earth. "Lor' 
bless me, young mistiss, what's gone and put dat notion 
'bout my courtin' in Marse Charley head ? I always 
tells *em as how a nigger k'yahnt do no better'n walk 
in de steps o' de mahrster, and Marse Charley and me is 
nigh onto one age ; and Marse Charley ain't married, 
leastwise not yet." 

" You mean to say," said Alice, " that when Mr. Fro- 
bisher marries it will be time enough for you to think 
of taking a wife ?" 

"Adzackly, young mistiss, adzackly, dat's it. But 
Lor' me, I dunno, neither. I ain't so sartin 'bout dat. 
Sam don't want to be hurried up. He want to take he 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 299 

time a choosin'. A man got to watch hisself dese times. 
D'yar ain't no sich gals as d'yar used to be. De fact 
is, ole Fidjinny has been picked over pretty close, 
and Sam ain't after de rubbage dat de others done 
leff." 

" I am afraid you are rather hard to please, Sam ?" 

" Yes, mistiss, Sam is hard to please." [Three weeks 
from this date Sam led to the altar a widow with one 
eye and eleven children, — making an even dozen, — who 
was lame of the left leg, black as the ace of spades, and 
old enough to be his mother.] " I won't 'spute dat. 
Ain't I patternin' after Marse Charley ? Slow and sho' 
is de game Marse Charley play, and Sam's a-treadin' 
in he tracks. Lor', mistiss, you wouldn't believe how 
many beautiful young ladies has been a-fishin' for him ; 
but pshaw! dey mought as well 'a' tried to land a 
porpoise wid a pin-hook !" 

Encouraged by the smiles evoked by this bold com- 
parison, Sam bloomed into metaphor: 

" But he was not to be cotched, not he ! Leastwise 
not by dem baits. 'Never mind, Marse Charley,' says 
I to myself, 'never you mind. You g'long! Jess 
g'long a-splashin' and a-cavortin' and a-sniffin' !' 'Fore 
Gaud dem's my very words, ' but d'yar's a hook some- 
whar as will bring you to sho' yet,' says I ; ' and dat 
hook is baited wid de loveliest little minner,' — umgh — 
u-m-g-h ! Heish ! Don't talk !" 

Charley could scarcely suppress his delight. " And 
bow soon," said he, carelessly dropping his hand into 
his pocket, — " how soon am I to be landed ?" 

"How soon ?" repeated Sam, leaning upon his heavy 
staff and reflecting with a diplomatic air. " How 
soon? Lor', mahrster, what for you ax a nigger dat 
question ? How is a nigger to know ? But 1 do be- 
lieve," said he, turning his back upon the river, and at 
the same time landing his metaphor, " dat you have 
done jumped over into de clover-field already, and you 
ain't gwine to jump back no mo'." (Here Charley 
withdrew his hand from his pocket and threw his arm 
casually behind him, across the gunwale of the Argo.) 
"Leastwise," he added with a perceptible-imperceptible 



300 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

glance at Alice, — " leastwise I don't see how you could 
have de heart to do it." 

Here Claarley gave a slight movement of his wrist, 
invisible to Alice ; and Sam, with a few sidelong, care- 
less steps, placed himself behind his master. He 
stooped and rose again, and Alice saw in his hand 
three or four oyster shells. These he dropped from 
time to time, pouring forth, meanwhile, a wealth of 
tropes and figures drawn from both land and sea ; but 
the last shell seemed to fall into his pocket. 

An Anglo-Saxon, if he have a well-born father, a 
careful mother, and half a dozen anxious maiden aunts, 
you shall sometimes see hammered into the similitude 
of a gentleman ; but in your old Yirginia negro good- 
breeding would seem to have been innate. 

"Some says dat d'yar is as good fish in de sea as 
ever was cotched out of it ; but I tells 'em, when you 
done pulled in one to suit you, you better row for de 
sho' less a squall come and upsot de boat. Well, good- 
evenin'. Miss Alice, and good-evenin', Marse Charley!" 
And with polite left foot and courteous right the black 
ploughman sent rolling the shining sand. 

" There, now," said AUce, " you see I What did I 
tell you ?" 

" Oh," replied Charley, « Sam will keep dark !" 

Yes, those were his very words! And Alice ac- 
knowledges that he made the one recorded above 
(though I see he has denied it). Such is ever the ruin 
wrought by love, even in the mind of a philosopher. 

" By the way," said Alice, as she stood with her feet 
upon the gunwale of the Argo, readj^ to spring, "in 
the rather mixed metaphors of honest Sam, which of 
us was the fish and which the hook ? ' Porpoise,' " 
quoted she, laughing, " I trust 1 don't remind you of 
one?" 

Charley, who stood in the sand, held one of Alice's 
hands in each of his with a degree of pressure entirely 
incommensurate with the necessities of equilibrium : 
" * * * * *" sang he, with a rapt and 

fatuous smile. ******* * 
Absence of wings * * * vision ♦ * 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 301 

* * eyes beheld." For, upon my word, the 

reader must not expect me to transcribe more than a 
word, here and there, of such jargon. 

Yet, though my tongue be harsh, I do not in my 
heart blame Charley ; for Alice, at all times a pretty 
girl, was, just at this moment, as she stood above 
him with the dark sky for a background, radiantly 
beautiful in his eyes. And more, — 

She looked beautiful on purpose. 

I repeat it, — she did it on purpose. 

And here, though it is abhorrent to all my art- 
instincts to break the current of my story with any- 
thing like a thought, original or selected, — though I 
have promised the reader to place before him a suc- 
cession of pictures merely, without even adding, This 
is Daniel, and, These are the Lions! — I feel that I have 
used an expression requiring an explanation. That 
explanation I cannot give save through the medium 
of what — disguise it how I will — wears the semblance 
of a thought. 

Buckle, in his " History of Civilization in England," 
lays it down that no man can write history without a 
knowledge of the physical sciences. Now it is equally 
true that no one can discuss human nature scientific- 
all}^ without an acquaintance with zoology. It is 
Darwin and the naturalists who have opened up this 
new field of inquiry ; and Comparative Zoological Na- 
ture has now become as needful a study to the play- 
wright and novelist as Comparative Anatomy is to the 
physiologist. For my own part, whenever I would know 
whether a certain proposition be true of man, I first 
inquire if it holds good as to the lower animals, — to 
speak as a man; and in the course of ray desultory 
investigations on this line I have stumbled upon sundry 
valuable truths. 

Among the convictions which I have reached in this 
way is the one which led me to say just now that 
our pretty little Alice, perched upon the gunwale of 
the Argo, bethought her of making poor Charley- 
crazy with love, by simply looking very, very beauti- 
ful ; and did so look accordingly, then and there. Of 

26 



302 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

the mere fact there can be no doubt, since I have 
Charley's word for that. [Fact. C. F.^ [Goose! A.F.^ 
[Who ? J. B. W.'] But a scientific explanation of the 
phenomenon can be given only by a student of Com- 
parative Zoological i^ature. 

The way in which I hit upon the truth in question 
was as Ibllows. A vexatious incident in my own pri- 
vate history had occurred just at the time when I had 
set myself the task of weaving this Monograph, and I 
was ruefully ruminating upon woman and her waj'S, 
and bringing up in my mind, and contrasting with her 
(in my Comparative Zoological fashion) all manner of 
birds and fishes and what not, when all of a sudden 
there popped into my head eels, and how marvellously 
slippery they were. 

But, thought T, if you can but get your finger and 
thumb into their gills, you've got 'em ; and if eels — 

But straightway I lost heart ; for I remembered, 
from my Darwin, that of gills — or branchice, as he Avill 
persist in calling them — no traces have for ages been 
discovered in the gemis homo, — at least in the adult 
stage. Far from it; for the Egyptian mammies, even 
in their day, for example, got on perfectly without 
them. 

The case was hopeless, therefore ; but still I went on 
ruminating about women and eels and eels and women, 
in the most aimless and unprofitable fashion, till, wan- 
dering off from the eel of commerce and the pie, I 
chanced to think of the electric variety of that fish. 
Here faint streaks of dawn began to make themselves 
felt; and so, making a rapid excursion through the 
animal kingdom, and recalling the numberless appli- 
ances for offence, defence, and attraction to be observed 
therein, I returned flushed with victory. I had made 
a discovery. It is this. Just as the eel in question 
(the Gymnotus electricus) has a reservoir of electricity, 
to be used when needed, so woman, I find, carries about 
her person more or less bottled beauty, wh^ch she has 
the singular power of raying forth at will. 

More or less ; in too many cases, less ; but evolution, 
through selection, may ultimately mend that. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 303 

How, or by what mechanism they contrive to do this, 
is more than I can tell. We know, it is true, that the 
Anolis principalis (the so-called chameleon of the Gulf 
States) can change at will from dingy brown to a lovely 
pea-green, by reversing certain minute scales along its 
back ; but to jump from this fact to the conclusion that 
the woman you saw at breakfast old and yellow, but 
youthful and rosy at the ball, indued all this g\ovy by 
simply reversing her scales, is, in the present state of 
our knowledge, premature. Besides, we have just 
seen that the gills of the prehistoric sister have long 
since disappeared ; so that the woman of the period 
may, upon investigation, turn out not to have any 
scales, minute or other, to reverse; so unsafe are analo- 
gies in matters of science. 

But the fact remains (no other hypothesis covering 
all the observed phenomena) that women carry about 
their persons bottled beauty. 

As to the thing itself, female beauty, I do not pretend 
to know any more about it than other people. That 
it is in its nature a poison has been notorious for thou- 
sands of years, attacking the male brain with incredi- 
ble virulence. This pathological condition of that or- 
gan has been spoken of for ages as Love, as everybody 
knows. But what everybody does not know, is that 
woman possesses the power of concentrating this toxic 
exhalation upon a doomed male, — dazzling him with 
what I may provisionally term beauty's bull's-eye lamp. 
Love is not blind. Just the reverse. The lovelorn see 
what is invisible to others, that is all ; the focussed rays 
of the most magical of all magic lanterns. 

Before I made this discovery, I was continually won- 
dering how most of the women I knew had managed 
to get married ; but it is a great comfort to me now 
to know that they are all beautiful (in the eyes of their 
husbands). 

Setting in motion, then, this subtle mechanism, which 
all women possess (though in some it don't seem to 
work), Alice showered down upon Charley, from hazel 
eyes and sunny hair, from well-turned throat and dim- 
pled hand, from undulating virgin form and momentary 



304 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

ankle-flash, — showered down upon him as she stood 
there graceful as a gazelle ready to spring, a sparkling 
wealth of youth and beauty. 

No matter what Charle}^ said. 

" I am glad you think so," said she, fluttering down 
from her perch. 

The shining sand was deep ; and that's the reason 
they walked so slowly; and that's the reason Alice 
clung so closely to his arm ; and that's the reason 
Charley thought he was walking on rosy morning 
clouds. 

" Oh !" cried Alice, — and Charley's face was corru- 
gated with sudden care : had some envious shell dared 
bruise her alabaster toe ? 

'* Did you hurt your foot, est ?" 

" Oh, no ; I just remembered that I had forgotten 
the very thing that I came to the Argo to talk over 
with you." 

"What was that?" 

Alice looked perplexed. 

" Tell me, ing ; what is it ?'* 

" I don't know where to begin." 

*' At the b-b-b-beginning, of course." 

" With some people I should ; but do you know that 
you are a very queer creature ?" 

"Your fault; I was just like other people till I met 
you, — a little cracked ev^er since." 

" Oh, I like you that way." And she gave his arm a 
little involuntary squeeze. [Nothing of the kind. AIJ] 

" How am I queer, then ?" 

" Well, you never tell people anything." 

" I have told you a good many things within the last 
day or two." 

" Only one thing, but that a good many times. But 
I am not a bit tired of hearing it." 

Here Charley gave her hand a voluntary little squeeze 
against his heart. [Inadequate statement of an actual 
occurrence. C. F.'\ 

" The fact is, I want to ask you a question, and am 
actually afraid you won't answer it. There, I knew 
you would not ! A cloud passed over your face at the 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 305 

veiy word question. You are so strange about some 
things !" 

"Let's hear the question ; what is it about ?" 

"About the Don. There! Why, you are positively 
frowning!" 

"Frowning!" 

" Yes ; your face hardened as soon as I uttered the 
word Don." 

" The Don ! What am I supposed to know about 
him ? Have not you known him as long as I, and 
longer ?" 

" Oh, I am not going to ask you who he is, or any- 
thing of that kind. I presume be alone knows that." 
(Charley's face grew serene.) " It is something entirely 
different. Is the Don — I know you will think it idle 
curiosity, but, indeed, indeed, it is not — is the Don — in 
love ?" 

"' Is the Don in love ?" cried Charley, with a sudden 
peal of laughter. " Is the Don in love ? And that is 
the weighty question that you have made such a pother 
about ! Is the Don in love !" 

" That sounds more like my question than an answer 
to it." 

" Now, seriously, my — ous — ing, you did not expect 
me to answer such a question as that ?" 

" No, I didn't r (A little snappishly.) " Any other 
man — under the circumstances — " 

" Yes, I believe I am very different from other men, 
and it is well ; for if every man were of my way of 
thinking, every girl in the world, save one, would be 
deserted ; and soon there would be but one man left on 
earth, — such a Kilkenny fight would rage around that 
one girl !" 

" I knew you would not answer my question." {^Not 
snappishly.) 

" How am I to know anything about it ?" 

" You and he are inseparable — " 

" And hence he has made a confidant of me, and I 
am to betray him ? No, he has never alluded to any 
such matter. Upon my word, I know nothing what- 
ever upon the subject." 

u 26* 



306 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"Indeed? You are a droll couple, to be sure," and 
she looked up, admiringly, at one-half of the couple, 
" talking together for hours, and never telling one an- 
other anything! Well, then, I shall answer the ques- 
tion myself: The Don is in love : there !" 

" What extraordinary creatures women are, to be 
sure ! You ask a question, are vexed at getting no 
answer, and then answer it yourself! The Don is in 
love, then; but with whom?" 

" That I don't know ; 1 only suspect. Oh, yes, I 
more than suspect ; in fact, I knoio, but some of the 
girls don't agree with me, and I want to know which 
side you are on." 

" On yours, of course — " 

"No joking; I am in earnest. The question be- 
tween us girls is this : it is plain to us all that he 
is in love — " 

" Then, why on earth — " 

" Don't you know that when you wish to find out 
about one thing the best way is to ask about an- 
other ?" 

"Tbat aphorism, I must confess, is entirely new to 
me." 

" Well, it is a household word with women. Of 
course he is in love; we — all of us girls, I mean — 
know that. But with whom? That is the question 
which divides us." 

" And you wish to put that conundrum to me ? 
Indeed, I know nothing about it." 

"Nor suspect?" 

Charley hesitated. 

" Honor bright ? Oh, don't be so hateful !" 

Charley smiled ; Alice saw he was weakening. 

" Oh, do tell me, which of the two?" 

" Which of the two f repeated Charle}^, looking 
puzzled. "Surely, jov\ cannot be in earnest; for of 
all the men I know. Dory— the D-D-D Don" [What, 
Charley, stammering on a mere lingu palatal !] " is the 
least likely to have two loves." 

" Dody, Dody ! Why do you call him Dody ?" 

" I called him the Don," said Charley, doggedly. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 307 

" And Dody, too ! Why Dody ? What a droll nick- 
name!" And she laughed. 

"You are mistaken ; I did not call him Dody." 

"You didn't?" 

"No; but my tongue," said Charley, coloring, "is 
like a mustang, — buck-jumps occasionally, and unseats 
its rider — her rider." 

" Oh, I beg your pardon !" said Alice, with tender 
earnestness, and gave his arm — this time consciously — 
an affectionate, apologetic squeeze. [1 don't deny -it! 
Al Frob.] 

" So the Don is not only a lover, but a double-bar- 
relled one ?" 

"No, we don't think that," said Alice, laughing; 
" but there is a dispute among us which of two birds 
he wishes to bring down." 

" Which of two birds ? Eeally, you puzzle me," said 
Charley, reflecting. " I could guess the name of one, 
perhaps; but the other — I am completely at sea." And 
he looked up in inquiry. 

"Is it possible! How blind, blind, blind you men 
are! And yet they tell me that nothing ever escapes 
your lynx eyes ! Why, Luc}^ and Mary, of course." 

"Lucy and Mary!" cried Charley, and, throwing 
back his head, he exploded with a shout of single-bar- 
relled amazement. 

" Wit and humor !" " Repeat, repeat, Alice !" cried 
voices from the piazza. 

The strollers looked up in surprise at finding them- 
selves so near the porch, while the occupants of this 
favorite lounging-place were in no less wonder at hear- 
ing Frobisher giving forth so unusual a sound. Alice 
swept the faces of her friends with a bright smile of 
greeting, but there was a certain preoccupation in her 
look. Charley's laugh had startled her. " Unconscious 
wit, then ;" and turning, she looked up into her com- 
panion's face with a puzzled air. 

It would seem that that sudden and unusual draft 
upon Charley's cachinnatory apparatus had exhausted 
that mechanism, for he was not even smiling now, but 
in what is called a brown study. He slowly turned on 



308 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Lis heel as though to return to the Argo, or, rather, as 
if he had no intentions of any kind, his movements 
heing directed by what Dr. Carpenter calls uncon- 
scious cerebration. Alice, holding her companion's 
arm, turned upon him as a pivot (though with con- 
scious cerebration, for she could almost feel upon the back 
of her head the smiles raying forth from the porch). 

" Mary and Lucy, did you say ?'' inquired he, turn- 
ing quicklj'upon her as though it had suddenly flashed 
upon him that he had not, perhaps, heard aright. 

" Yes, Mr. Frobisher. What on earth is the matter?" 

"What's the matter? Why, nothing, of course. 
You simply amused me, that is all." And smiling 
stiffly, he threw up his head with a sort of shake and 
made as though he would join the party on the porch. 

This time Alice did not rotate on the pivot, but, 
standing firm, became the centre of revolution herself, 
and brought Charley to a "front face" again, by a 
sturdy pull upon his arm, and began to move slowly 
forward, as though to return to the Argo. " What is 
it?" asked she, looking up into his face with eager 
interest. "Do tell me?" 

"Tell you what?" 

"Why you act so strangely? Which of the two, 
then ?" 

These words threw Charley into his brown study 
again. Looking far away, with drawn lids, he was 
silent for some time. " Alice," said he, turning slowly 
and looking into her eyes, " I am going to surprise j'ou." 

^^ Neither Mary nor Lucy, you are going to say!" 
And her snowy bosom beat with thick-thronging 
breaths. " 0-o-oh, I know," cried she, with a look of 
pain. " He is married already r 

Y"et why with a look of pain ? Ought she not rather 
on her friend's account to have rejoiced? But here 
was a hero evaporated ; and in this humdrum treadmill 
of our life there is so little of romance ! And do we not 
all of us, men and children alike, strain our eyes 
against the darkened sky, regretful that the flashing 
but all too evanescent meteor has passed away into the 
abyss of night? 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 309 

Charley smiled. " How fearfully and wonderfully is 
woman made ! You first ask me for information which 
I do not possess, but which it appears you do, then 
answer your own question ; then when I am about to 
say something, you tell me what I am about to say ; 
and then — with a little shriek — discover the mare's 
nest I am about to reveal ! No, I was not going to 
say 'neither Lucy nor Mary,' nor yet that the Don 
was married. I was about to make a proposition to 
you. Are you really very anxious to have it decided 
whether it is Mary or Lucy ?" 
" Very." 

" Then I know but one way : ask the Don himself" 
"The idea!" cried Alice, with a cheery laugh. 
"What!" added she, looking up into his face with 
great surprise, " surely you are not in earnest !" 
"I am." 

"Mr. Frobisher!" 

" I am. I said 1 was going to surprise you." 
Alice wheeled in front of him, and they stood looking 
into each other's eyes. " Upon — my — word," said she, 
slowly, "I believe you really mean it!" 
"I'^do." 

" Mr. Frobisher ! Then, if it be so important to you 
to know, why don't you ask him yourself?" 

" It is of no earthly importance to me to know ; it is 
of importance to — to — to — him to be asked ?" 

" You awful sphinx ! You will kill me with curiosity I 

But why not ask him yourself? Why put it on me ?" 

" Because," said Charley, smiling, — " simply because it 

is your question ; you want the answer to the riddle, 

not I !" 

'J That's just the way with you men," said Alice, 
smiling ; " you affect to be lofty beings, superior to the 
foible, curiosity. And so you would make a cat's paw 
of me ?" 

" Well, yes ; for it is you who want the chestnuts." 
" And my fingers, therefore, are to be burnt ; for this 
same Mr. Don is an awful somebody to approach." 

"To others, perhaps, but not to you; nor to me, 
either, perhaps j but the chestnuts are for you. Be- 



310 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

sides, as Dido said to her sister Anna, you know the 
approaches of the man and the happy moment. How 
often have I seen every one quaking with awe when 
you are attacking him with your saucy drolleries, and 
how charmed he always is, and how he laughs!" 

" And poor dear mamma," said Alice, with a tender 
smile, "how she shakes and weeps and weeps and 
shakes ! Do you know, Mr. Frobisher, though I say it 
' as shouldn't,' I am not, bj' half, so giddy and brainless as 
I seem? Do you know why I cut up so man}^ didoes? 
(By the way, I wonder whether that rather colloquial 
phrase has any reference to iEneas's girl ?) But it is the 
truth, that half the time that I am cutting my nonsen- 
sical capers, it is just to make mamma laugh. Ah, 
Mr. Frobisher, j^ou have hardly known what a mother 
can be, and you will have to love mine ! You won't 
be able to help it." And the cutter of capers and of 
didoes passed her hand across her eyes. "Look," said 
she after a pause, " there she sits now, and beside the 
Don, too. Don't she look serene ? See how she is 
smiling at me over the banister!" And throwing her- 
self into an attitude, she blew kiss after kiss to Iler 
Serenity, in rapid succession, from alternate hands. 
"There! she is off. As her eyes are shut tight, she 
will not be able to see me for half a minute, and I will 
take the opportunity of telling 3'ou, for your comfort, 
that she does not think there is a man living half good 
enough for me. How do you feel ?" 

" 1 feel that she is right!" 

" And I feel that she is twice wrong. First, bectause 
she does not know me, and secondly, because she docs 
not know — somebody T' And skipping up the steps, she 
ran to her mother and bounced into her lap: "Are you 
glad to see me? Did you think I was never coming 
back?" 

"A bad penny is sure — " 

"Who's a bad penny?" And taking the plump 
cheeks between her palms, she squeezed the serene 
features into all manner of grotesque and rapidly- 
changing shapes. "Who's a bad penny? Isn't she a 
beauty?" said she, twisting the now unresisting head 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 311 

80 as to give the Don a full view of the streaming cj-es 
and ludicrousl}^ projecting lips. " Behold those sestlietic 
lines! Ladies and gentlemen," said she, turning, with a 
quick movement, her mother's face in the opposite 
direction, " I call your attention to the Cupid's bow so 
plainly discernible in the curves of that upper lip. 
Can you wonder that papa is a slave? By the way," 
continued she in the same breath, and taking no heed 
of the general hilarity that she had aroused, — "by the 
way, Mr. Don, are you glad to see me ?" But without 
waiting for him to find words to reply, a quizzical look 
came into her face as she observed that with the beat 
of her mother's laughter her own person was gently 
bobbing up and down, as though she rode a pacing 
horse: "Snow-bird on de ash-bank, snow-bird on de 
ash-bank, snow-bird on de ash-bank," she began, in a 
sort of Eunic rhythm, or shall we say in jig measure? 
" snow-bird on de ash-bank ;" and from her curving 
Avrists, drawn close together in front of her bosom, her 
limp hands swung and tossed, keeping time, jingling 
like muffled bells. The pacing horse now broke into a 
canter, and the canter became a gallop : " Ride a cock- 
horse to Banbury Cross, ride a cock-horse to Banbury 
Cross! This steed is about to i-un away; discretion is 
the better part." And springing from her mother's lap, 
she stood before the Don. 

" Have you prepared your answer yet ? Are you 
glad to see me once more?" 

The Don put his hand upon his heart. Alice ex- 
tended hers. The Don took it. 

" You have not answered my question." 

" Words cannot ex — " 

" Words ? Who is talking about words?" And she ex- 
tended her hand again. " Press that lily fair, — just one 
little squeeze. She — the rotund smiler — won't be able 
to see for half a minute yet. Quick! She is wiping 
her eyes! Ah! ah! ah! Eeally and truly ? Enough! 
Desist ! We are observed !" 

" She is the girl to tackle him !" thought Charley, 
wiping his eyes. 



312 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTEE XLIX. 

Charley was right. She was the girl to tackle him, 
if he was to be tackled at all ; but Charley knew that 
better than the reader, who has had merely a glimpse 
or so of the irrepressible Alice in her relations with the 
subject of this Monograph. For Charley had, as men- 
tioned in the last chapter, witnessed innumerable 
scenes between the two, which had caused him to wipe 
his eyes and look as though something hurt him ; that 
being his way of laughing before he was married. 
This being a Monograph, however, I have not felt at 
liberty to place those scenes before the reader ; for a 
Monograph is, if I understand the term, a paper rigidly 
confined to one subject; alien topics being admitted 
only as illustrations throwing light on the main theme. 
So that the monotony of this narrative, which a hasty 
reader might attribute to poverty of invention, is in 
fact due to my rigidly artistic adherence to the Unities. 
A Monograph I promised, and a Monograph this shall 
be. 

And the theme is not Love. 

" Then why did you not say so at first ?" I hear you 
ask, my Ah Yung Whack, — hear you say this in plain 
English, for in your day all other languages will be as 
dead as that of Cicero. 

I cannot blame you for asking the question, though 
the answer is read3^ 

Because I should else have found no readers among 
my contemporaries. The readers — that is, the people 
of leisure — of my day are mostly women and preach- 
ers (the third sex usually having all they can do to 
take care of the other two), and neither will bite freely 
at any bait save Love. They will nibble at the hook, 
but a game rush — bait, hook, and all, at a gulp — that 
is elicited only by a novel. Love is the bait now. 
Three hundred years ago it was Hate, the odium theo- 
LOGICUM. Three hundred years hence it will be — 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 313 

but I cannot guess what, and you will know, my almond- 
eyed hoj, — almond-eyed and ^^ellow of skin, though, 
swearing by Shakespeare, and perhaps by Magna Charta 
and Habeas Corpus. 

If, indeed, in your day — but enough ! and so fare 
thee well, Confucian of far Cathay ! 

The piazza after breakfast, next morning. A bright, 
sunny day in the beginning of February, with a volup- 
tuousness in the air hinting at the approach of spring. 
*' How beautiful and sparkling the river looks !" said 
one of the girls. " And just to think," she added, with 
a little stamp of her little foot, " we must bid farewell 
to it so soon !" 

" That reminds me," said Alice, rising briskly from 
the rocking-chair, in which she reclined, drinking in 
the balmy air and bright talk in half-dozing silence. 
But the silence and half-closed eyes were those of pussy 
awaiting the appearance of Mistress Mouse. 

" That reminds me." And giving a quick glance at 
Charley, as she passed him, she marched with a rapid, 
business-like tread, straight up to the Don. Charley 
prepared to weep. I must mention, in passing, that 
his way of weeping over Alice differed from her 
mother's in this, that when the tears stood in his eyes, 
those windows of the soul were wide open, thereby 
revealing the fact that his ribs ached; whereas Mrs. 
Carter's being shut tight, it was left entirely to con- 
jecture whether she wept from pain or pleasure. 

Alice planted her little self square in front of the 
towering figure of the Don, and looked him in the eyes 
as though expecting him to begin the conversation. 

" What now, sauce-box ?" asked Mrs. Carter, quickly, 
as though she felt that if she delayed a moment longer 
she would become, as usual, speechless ; and a premo- 
nitory shake or two passing through her jolly figure 
showed that her prudence was not ill-judged. " What 
are you up to now ?" 

" Well ?" said Alice, with her eyes fixed on those of 
the Don. 

Charley dried his with his handkerchief, for he wanted 
to see everything. The Don (I regret to have to use 
o 27 



314 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

the expression) was in a broad grin. As to Mrs. Carter, 
the faintest thread of hazel was still visible between 
the lids of her fast-closing orbs of light. Alice turned 
pettishly on her heel, and with her eyes retorted over 
her shoulder, twirled her thumbs. 

It was evident that there was something amiss about 
Charley's ribs. Not so with Mrs. Carter ; for to any 
one surveying her person, ribs remained the merest 
hypothesis, based upon the analogy of other verte- 
brates ; but the upper part of her spinal column gave 
way ; that is, she lost control of her neck, and her 
head rested helplessly against the back of her chair. 

" Well ?" 

" What an ornament is lost to the stage !" laughed 
the Don. 

" The stage ! Are we not enacting a real life-drama? 
and" (looking down) "to me a very serious one? 
And I have been looking for the denouement so long — 
so long !" 

" That only comes at the end of the play !" 

" And did you not hear what Jennie said just now ? 
Another short week only is left ! The end of the play 
has come. There is but time to come before the foot- 
lights and say our last say !" She paused. " Hast 
thou naught to say to me ?" resumed she, with averted 
eyes, and in a stage-whisper. 

" Naught to say to thee ?" replied he, falling into her 
vein. " Can'st believe thy slave so flinty-hearted ?" 

" Forbid the thought !" cried she, in melodramatic 
tone and gesture. "No; long have I felt that thou 
had'st some sweet whisper for me o'er-hungry ear, but 
thy bashful reticence — 1 deny it not — did breed in me 
girlish heart a most rantankerous doubt. Speak ! Ee- 
move this doubt rantankerous! But st! One ap- 
proaches ! Let's seek some secluded nook ! Beholdest 
yon fateful Argo ? On !" And passing her arm through 
his, she advanced down the piazza with the tread and 
look of an operatic gipsy-queen full of mezzo-soprano 
mystery, which she is to unveil before the foot-lights ; 
while he, to the delight and amazement of the specta- 
tors, strode forward in the well-known wide, yet cautious 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 315 

tread of the approaching bandit; to which nothing was 
lacking save the muffling cloak and the pizzicato on the 
double-basses. 

Reaching the steps. '' On !" cried she, flashing forth 
an arm. " Descend !" 

" Encore ! Encore !" shouted the audience, to which 
she deigned no reply, and the pair stepped upon tho 
turf. 

" Have you ever heard the ' Daughter of the Eegi- 
ment' ?" asked she, halting and speaking in her natural 
manner. " But of course you have. Strange to relate, 
I have myself heard it twice. You remember the 
Rataplan duet? Of course. Well, I am what's-her- 
name, and you are the old sergeant ! Come !" And 
with that she strutted gayly off, rattling an imaginary 
drum with rare vivacity. 

Again the Don was not to be outdone; rubadubbing, 
to the surprise of all, in a deep sonorous voice; strutting, 
who but he, and every inch a soldier. 

Vociferous applause ! The actors turned and bowed 
low. 

" Unprecedented enthusiasm !" (whispered Alice) 
" the Gallery has tumbled into the Pit!" 

Which was true ; for the audience had rushed pell- 
mell upon the lawn, Mrs. Carter alone remaining ujjon 
the porch, unable, for the present, to rise, her chubby 
hands darting in every direction in vain search for her 
handkerchief 

For the moment the household service at Elmington 
was disorganized, and grinning heads protruded from 
the chamber windows. Let them grin on ! In those 
days there was time for play, as well as for work. 

" Umgh — umgh, heish !" ejaculated Uncle Dick, from 
his pantry window. "Miss Alice are a oner, / tell 
you !" 

What our august butler meant by "hush!" I can- 
not say, as Zip had uttered no word. Perhaps he was 
shutting up some imaginary person, conceived as about 
to deny the proposition that Miss Alice was a "oner." 

" Hein ?" (pronounce as though French), said Zip, 
walling up his eyes. 



316 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" Wash dem dishes, boy I Do you 'spose I was gwine 
for to 'dress no remarks to de likes of you 'bout a 
young mistiss? Mind you business, and stop gapin* 
through de window I" 

Moses made a show of obedience, rattling the plates 
together with unusual vigor; but for all that he craned 
his neck for a view of the lawn, keeping a weather 
eye out, the while, upon the ready right hand of his 
chief, — a man of summary methods with his subordi- 
nates. 

" Come," said Alice, " a repeat is demanded." And 
away they went, rubadubbing back towards the piazza. 
" Eataplan ! Rataplan ! Eataplan !" 

This time (on the antistrophe) Alice outdid herself. 
Tossing her head from side to side, with an inimitable 
mixture of reckless coquetry and military precision ; 
her jaunty little figure stiffened and thrown back; tap- 
ping the ground with emphatic foot-falls, she was, in 
all save costume, an ideal vivandiere. She glanced at 
Charley as she approached him. 

" Eataplan ! Eataplan ! Eataplan !" thundered the 
Don. 

" Eataplan ! Eataplan ! Eataplan !" chirped Alice. 

In obedience to the glance he had received, Charley 
leaned forward; and just as she passed him a saucy 
toss of her head brought her lips within an inch or so 
of his attentive ear. "Eataplan ! Tve a plan, rataplan, 
plan, plan, plan ;" and the couple reaching the steps, 
the Don bowed in acknowledgment of the joyous 
applause of the Pit; while Alice, her hand resting 
lightly in his, after the manner of prime donne, exe- 
cuted a series of the most elaborate courtesies ever 
witnessed on or off any stage. 

" And now, ladies and gentlemen, hasten to the side- 
show ! Within this tent," said she, waving her hand 
towards the porch, " sits enthroned the Fat Woman, 
better known as The Great American XJndulator. Only 
twenty-five cents, children a quarter of a dollar! A 
strictly moral show, and all for the benefit of the 
church! Unlike the fiendish hyena, her mocking 
laughter never curdles the blood of the living, while 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 317 

she ravens among the bones of the dead. Twen-ty-five 
cents! Warranted not to laugh aloud in any climate; 
but has been known to smile in the face of the fabled 
hyena aforesaid, well knowing that she has no bones, 
herself, for his midnight mockery. Children, a qiiar-ter 
of a dollar I Walk in, gentlemen, and take your sweet- 
hearts with you, and see The Unrivalled Anatomical 
Paradox, or The Boneless Vertebrate ; known through- 
out this broad land as The Great American Undulator. 
A strictly moral show^, only twenty -five cents, and all 
for the benefit of the church ! Children — but I detain 
the primo basso," said she, bowing gravely to that 
gentleman, as she passed her arm within his. "We 
will now hie us to the Fateful ; since you insist on 
asking me, at that spot only, ' what are the wild waves 
saying?' or is it some other question^ perhaj^s? — be 
still, my heart !" 

The Don was never so happy as when Alice w^as 
girding at him in one of her frolic moods, and he sallied 
forth in high good humor. The audience watched 
from the piazza for some new mad prank on Alice's 
part, but she walked slowly forward, and even seemed 
to be talking about the weather. At any rate, she 
raised her hand towards certain flying clouds. 

" The saucy jade !" said Mrs. Carter, with ill-con- 
cealed admiration. " Well, I suppose she is a privi- 
leged character, as the saying is." 

" I should like to know, Mrs. Carter, how we are to 
get on without her ?" said Mr. Whacker. " If I were 
thirty or forty years younger — but there is Charley ; 
eh, Mr. Mum ?" 

" If," replied Mr. Mum, " I were such as you were 
thirty or forty years ago. Uncle Tom, I don't think 
she could possibly escape." 

"And what would become of me, then?" said Mrs. 
Carter. "How far are they going? I believe she is 
actually going to take him to the Argo, as they call it. 
There they go, straight on ; he is helping her into the 
boat now ; W' ell, upon my word ! What is she up to ? 
This bright sun will tan her dreadfull}^, of course, but 
little she'carcs ! She might raise her parasol, at least, 

27* 



318 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

instead of poking holes in the sand, as she seems to be 
doing." 

"Frightened? Yes, dreadfully," said Alice, giving 
her collaborators an account of the interview. " Of 
course I was ; but I was ' mtermined,' as poor old Uncle 
Dick used to say, to go through with it. You see, my 
liege-lord that w^as to be — Mr. Chatterbox, I mean," 
tai^ping Charley with her fan — " had, the evening be- 
fore, commanded — " 

" Commanded ! Oh !" said Charley, darting his fore- 
finger as an exclamation-point into the middle of a 
smoke-ring. 

" Yes, commanded me to do it. I see, Jack, that jou 
have left out that part of our talk (to make room for 
more of your own nonsense, I suppose) in your account 
of our conversation ; but just as 1 was about to run up 
the steps, he stopped me and ^vhispered, ' Mind, I wish 

*' Oho !" cried Charley, brushing away with a sweep 
of his hand a wreath that would not work, " that's the 
-way I talked then, was it ?" 

" Yes, that was what you said, and I — rather — liked 
it." 

"Hear, hear!" murmured Charley, his left eye shut, 
and slowly moving his head, so as to keep the open 
centre of a whirling smoke-wreath between his right 
eye and a certain portrait on the wall. 

" You know. Jack, every real woman likes the man 
to be master." 

"Hear, hear!" gurgled Charley, in a rather choking 
voice ; for by this time, in his effort to keep his eye 
on a fly on the ceiling (the ring having floated away 
from the picture and over his head), he had leaned his 
head so far back that (to speak rather as a Bush- 
whacker than as an anatomist) his Adam's apple was 
impinging on his vocal cords. 

Alice glanced from Charley to me, and tapped her 
forehead gently with her fan, just as Charley snapped 
his head back from its constrained position. " Clothed," 
Baid she, " but not altogether in his right milid. But 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 319 

we sball never get done if we go on in this way. Come ! 
But before I go any further, Jack, I must ask 3'ou to 
remember that I was not as well acquainted with the 
Don at this time, as any reader would be who had read 
3'our book up to this point. I see that you call him a 
'man of surprises' (a rather Frenchified phrase, by the 
way); but please bear in mind that the only surprise 
he had ever caused me was when he bloomed forth as 
a violinist. All the other surprises were devoured b}" 
this Silent Tomb," said she, glancing towards Charley. 
Him, detected in the act of smoothing with his pipe- 
stem the jagged, interior edges of a blue annulus, she 
brought to his senses by a sharp fan-tap on his head. 

" AVhat is to become of our Monograph if you go on 
in this way ?" 

" Monograph ? I thought you were on a polygraph, 
or a pantograph, and was amusing myself till you came 
back to the subject." 

" Yery true. Well, I took my seat in the stern, and 
he sat opposite me, looking much amused, and very 
curious to know what m^^ whim was. I think I was a 
'girl of surprises' when I began. 'Do you know, Mr. 
Don,' said I, ' are you aware that you are a Fiend in 
Human Shape?' *^He burst out laughing. He obvi- 
ously thought that I was unusually crazy, even for me. 
'No,' said he, '1 can't say that I ever appeared to 
myself in that light; but we will suppose that 3-ou are 
right ; what then ?' And he settled himself to be 
amused. I was far from amused, I assure you. I was 
at my wit's end, not knowing what to say next, so I 
began to make holes in the sand (as observed by the 
lynx-eyed Boneless). Give a dog a bad name and kill 
him ; get the reputation of being a wag — should I say 
waggess? — and your simplest acts amuse. As I looked 
down I could see, out of the corner of my eye, his 
wondering smile. I felt that he mistook my embar- 
rassment for archness, and that my silence was, in his 
eyes, an artistic rhetorical pause. By the way, to 
change the subject" (Charley groaned and received a 
rap), " that's where we women have the advantage of 
men. You are the besieging army, we the beleaguered 



320 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

city. TTc can see any confusion in your ranks, while 
a panic behind onr walls is invisible to you. If you 
feel confused, you imagine that you look so ; and then 
you do look so. It is different with us. We know — " 

Here Charley seized his pipe and began filling it with 
the most obtrusive vigor. " Conundrum !" said he, 
claiming attention with uplifted forefinger. 

" Weil ?" 

" What is the difference between a woman's tongue 
and a perpetual-motion machine? Answer: I give it 
up!" 

As I could never learn to whirl smoke-wreaths, I 
twirled my thumbs during the interruption of our ses- 
sion that ensued. The bashful and evasive Charley 
upset every chair in the room, save mine, behind which 
he was ultimately captured and punished. '' Pshaw 1 
Who minds Jack?" said Alice, stooping to right her 
rocking-chair. " Ugh ! How smoky your moustache 
is!" 

"I never heard anything like that while we were 
engaged." 

" And for a very good reason," said she, with a toss 
of her head. 

" Illustrious Bceotian !" sighed Charley. 

Alice threw herself into her chair, panting and laugh- 
ing. " Where was I ?" 

" You were without a compass, in a word-ocean with- 
out a shore,." 

" On the contrary, I was on the shore, and poking 
holes in the sand. 'Well,' said the Don, 'what should 
be done to a man who was so unfortunate as to be a 
Fiend in Human Shape ?' 

" ' I should say that he needed a guardian. He lacks 
the warning voice of a mother.' 

" ' But we will suppose that he has no mother.' 

" ' Then let him find one. How, for example,' said 
I, feeling my way, ' how do you think that I would 
look the character.' And I put on a demure expression. 

" ' Admirably, admirably !' 

" ' Then you adopt me as a mother?' 

" ' Yes.' 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 321 

" ' A mother with a warning voice ?' I added, begin- 
ning to find my soundings. 

" ' A mother with a voice soft as a zephyr 1' 

" ' No, with a voice of warning.' 

" Up to this time he had been watching me some- 
what with the expression of a child when some one is 
about to touch the spring of a Jack-in-the-Box. Up I 
was going to bounce, in some high antic or other. But 
just here his countenance took on a look of perplexity. 
I suppose my voice became one of warning. Can't I 
talk seriously sometimes^ Mr. Frobisher?" 

'^You? Oh, Lord!" 

" Well, you needn't be so emphatic. What will Jack 
think?" 

" Pshaw ! Who minds Jack ? Ouch !" 

" Well, where was I ? Ah ! ' No, with a voice of 
warning,' said I, looking rather grave, I suppose. 
' Very well,' said he, ' with a voice of warning.' ' I 
am your mother, then?' 'Yes.' 'And you are my 
son ?' ' Yes, mumma,' said he, smiling, and holding up 
his knee with interlaced fingers and looking very com- 
fortable. 

" ' My son,' said I, with perfect gravity, and feeling 
very WTicomfortable. 'My dear child, I need not tell 
you that I feel all a mother's affection for you. I have 
given you so many proofs of this ever since I trotted 
you on my foot, a wee thing, — ^you, not the foot, — that 
I do not feel called upon to add any more evidence of 
the love I bear you.' 'Darling mumpsy!' said he. 
You may look incredulous, but he said it. ' But no one 
is perfect,'— he nodded ; ' then you will not be surprised 
to hear that your loving mother sees in you, mingled 
with many excellencies that make her proud, some 
faults, — one fault at least? You will not feel hurt? 
Consider your head patted.' And T began again poking 
holes in the sand. ' What is my crime ? Speak, mother 
dear ?' ' You are a handsome young man.' ' Ah, but 
how could I help that, with such a lovely little mother ?' 
' No frivolity, my child ; no bandying compliments with 
your old mother. No matter whence your good looks 
are derived, you are devastatingly handsome — ' " 



322 THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 

" How could you say such a thing to a man's face, 
Alice?" 

" To put him in good humor. You are all vain, you 
know. 

" Upon that he threw back his head and gave a 
shout of laughter. ' Go on,' said he, lolling back and 
nursing his knee as before. 'No,' said I, ' the fatal gift 
of beauty is not a crime in itself; it is the use one — ' 

" 'Do you know,' said he, interrupting me and lean- 
ing forward with deep conviction in his eyes, ' that you 
are the most extraordinary girl — I mean mother — that 
I ever encountered ? • You ought to write ; it is your 
positive duty. So much brightness — tit for tat, you 
know — ought not to waste its sweetness, etc. Have 
you never thought of writing a book ?' ' Not I, — Mary 
Kolfe is our genius ; I leave that to her.' 

" His face flushed slightly, and instantly I changed 
my whole plan of campaign. I had been making a 
reconnoissance under cover of the mother and son fic- 
tion ; but like a wide-awake general, I now, seeing the 
enemy in confusion, unmasked my batteries and opened 
fire ; that is, I dropped my parasol and sprang towards 
him with an anxious look : ' Are you ill ?' I asked. 

" His face grew crimson, for he knew what I meant. 
You see he had once or twice heard me making fun of 
a certain threadbare trick of the novelists. It would 
seem that characters in romances never have the least 
idea that any one is in love with any one. One party 
casually mentions to a second party the name of a third 
party. Instantly party No. 2 changes color. ' Are you 
ill ?' cries No. 1. ' It is nothing,' gasps No. 2 ; ' it will 
pass in a moment.' " 

" Yes," said Charley, " and how singular it is that No. 
1 never for a moment suspects the truth, but invariably 
goes off under the conviction that the poor heroine has 
eaten something indigestible, — has a pain — nay, even 
—who minds Jack ? — an ache !" 

" How shrewd a device !" said Alice, laughing. " The 
author lets the reader know, while concealing it from 
the actors in the drama, that the poor girl is desper- 
ately gone." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 323 

^ "Yes," added Charley; "the author may be said to 
tip the reader a wink, 'unbeknownst' — behind No. I's 
back Now don't, Alice ; do sit down and let's go on. 
That's right. Why, in a novel, even a physician would 
ask, 'Are you ill ?'_even Ae could not distinguish be- 
tween the indications of love and the symptoms of 
colic." 

" In one word," said Alice, " those words make a book 
a novel, — and their absence makes this — a sym — " 

Charley here burst into a quotation, speaking fear- 
fully through his nose : " Of this disease the great^Napo- 
leon died. Some say that Napoleon was a great man ; 
some say that Washington was a great man ; but /say 
that true greatness consists in moral grandeur. With 
this brief digression, gentlemen, w^e will resume our 
subject." 

"Why, who on earth could have said that?" cried 
Alice ; " it is immense !" 

"Have you never heard Jack or myself quote it 
before? It was the one solitary gem of rhetoric in the 
annual course of lectures delivered by old P-P-P-P— too 
many confounded p-p-p-ji's! Imitate his example,— 
resume!" 

" Where did I leave him ? Ah ! ' Are you ill ?' said 
I, and he blushed as red as a rose. I waited a moment, 
then said, ' You have lost the cue ; repeat after me,— 
"It—is— nothing!" ' 'It is nothing,' repeated he; 'it- 
will — soon — pass! it will soon pass.' 

" ' Will it ?' said I, charging bayonets. ' That is the 
question, Mr. Don,' said I, folding my arms,— these two, 
not the bayonets,— ' you are in love!' I looked him 
straight in the eyes, for my blood was up ! My fear 
was all gone !" 

(" It has never come back !" said Charley.) 

"'To deny it would be useless as well as un gall ant. 
Who would believe me ? Constantly associated for so 
long with a bevy of charming — ' 

" ' A bevy ! Are you enamoured of the whole flock ? 
Is there no bright particular star? May I make a 
guess? Ah, I see I need not name her.' 

" ' Miss Carter,' said he, after a pause, ' you seem so 



324 T^HE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

different from your usual self this morning! Or are 
you merely laying a .train for a phenomenal display of 
fire-works ? Are you in earnest, or are you preparing 
to blow me up with an explosion of fun ?' 

" ' I am in earnest, and I am going to blow you up, 
too. Listen : but before broaching my main topic, I 
must say one word on Mary Rolfe.' 

" ' I had thought that she was to be the main theme 
of your sermon.' 

" ' Of course you thought so, — perfectly natural, the 
wish being father to the thought' How that made 
him blush and stammer, — almost as badly as the Silent 
Tomb in its courting daj'S. Now, boys" (meaning her 
husband and the subscriber), " I leave it J;o you : wasn't 
I a regular Macchiavelli ? Didn't I manage it neatly? 
You see it would not have done to let him see that I 
was acting as Mary's friend, even though without her 
knowledge and consent; and she would never have 
forgiven me. So, at the very outset, I planted an in- 
terrogation-point in his mind. ' What is she coming to ?' 
he kept thinking ; but I was there already. I had made 
my reconnoissance and found out where the enemy was 
weak; but, as you veterans know, after a reconnois- 
sance, the trouble is to get back to camp without loss. 
This is how I managed that : ' To begin,' said I, ' with 
Mary Rolfe. Her you love. That's admitted? Well, 
silence gives consent. Now, whether you have told her 
so in words or not is more than I can tell; for, al- 
though Mary and I are very intimate, girls do not — ' " 

"Oh!" grunted Charley. 

" Well, in theory they do not," replied Alice, laughing. 

" ' Whether you have told her in words,' said 1 — 

" '■ I have told her neither in words nor otherwise,' 
said he. 

" ' Indeed,' said I, * that's strange ! strange, that you 
should have kept her alone in darkness. You must be 
aware that you have told every one else, as plainly as 
looks, at least, can speak. But I must proceed; I have 
no time to discuss that.' ' One moment, — you say that 
my looks have revealed my sentiments. Are you quite 
sure of this?' 'The fabled ostrich and the sand!' said 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 325 

I, laughing. ' Confound it! Excuse me, — well, I suppose 
I deceive mj^self, as other men do. There is our friend 
Charley, for instance, the woman-hater! Now, he 
fondly imagines that nobody knows that he adores 
somebody!'" 

" Fondly ! H'm ! Well, go on," said Charley. 

"I colored faintly at this, for blushing is becoming to 
me. 'And, yet,' said I, 'I venture to say that the 
somebody in question knew what was taking place in 
his mind even before he suspected it.' ' Did you really?' 
asked he. 'I have no doubt she did,' said I. 'All 
women are alike, in that,' I added; ^hut let us proceed.' 
' One moment,' said he ; 'if all women are alike in this 
intuitive power, then I infer that Miss Eolfe cannot 
fail to have remarked that I — ' Here I gave my shoul- 
ders a diplomatic shrug, which brought him to a dead 
pause. He nodded his liead gently up and down a little 
while, and seemed in great perplexity. ' Miss Carter,' 
said he, suddenly looking up, ' will you be my friend 
and advise me?' 'I am your friend,' said I, 'and will 
do what I can in the way of advice.' Then he looked 
down for a long time, his face all corrugated with cross- 
purposes. My blood began to run a little chill. Was 
the great mystery about to be revealed ? 

" ' You say that by my bearing and looks I have, to 
all intents and purposes, declared myself a lover of Miss 
Eolfe. Now, suppose — and I pledge you my word that 
it is so — suppose all this was unintentional on my part; 
suppose that I have striven not to show just what you 
say I have shown,' — he paused again as before. ' No,' 
said he, resuming, in a half-musing way, as though he 
thought aloud, ' I don't see how I can lay the whole 
case before her' (meaning me, I suppose). ' Ah,' said 
he, his face brightening, 'let us suppose. a case. Sup- 
pose I loved you dearly, — a very supposable case, by 
the way, — and you did not suspect it.' ' Not a suppos- 
able case; but go on.' 'Well,' said he, smiling, 'at that 
wharf, yonder, lies a ship ready to sail. I am to go in 
her to seek my fortune in the wide world, somewhere; 
ought I to speak, or would it not be nobler to bid you 
farewell with my secret locked in my breast ?' 

28 



326 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" I saw, of course, how matters stood. The supposed 
case was a purely ima<jjinary one. His perplexity had 
been due to the difficulty of avoiding all allusion to his 
incognito. *I don't pretend to know which would be 
the nobler course for you ; but I should want to know 
it, and hear it from your own lips, too, were you to be off 
for Japan in fifteen minutes. The sweetest music in the 
world to a woman's ears is the voice of a man telling her 
that he loves her; and it is music of so potent a charac- 
ter, that it often melts a heart that was cold before.' 

" That shot told. He threw his head back, like a 
horse taking the bit between his teeth. It was plain that 
he had formed a resolution of some sort. By the way, 
Jack, I could never understand how so transparent a 
man as the Don, showing his inmost feelings with every 
glance of his eye, and every movement of his features ; 
with a face which was a barometer of his slightest emo- 
tions, could ever have kept a secret. Here is the S. T., 
on the other hand. Whisper a secret into Ms ear, and 
it is like dropping a stone into an artesian well. It is 
the last you ever hear of it. There may be a subterra- 
nean splash, but you never see it. But the Don's face 
always reminded me of a lake that the merest pebble 
causes to ripple from shore to shore. 

" Well, the reconnoissanee was a perfect success, and 
all that was left, as I thought, was to retire under 
cover of a rattling skirmish fire.* Very naturally, I did 
not suspect that my position was mined. But it was j 
and I trod on the percussion fuse. 

" ' Well,' said I, ' I don't suppose you would ever get 
tired of hearing me talk about Mary, but you have 
never heard the mother's " warning voice" yet, and you 
know 5^ou came to the Fateful Argo to hear that.' 

" < That's true ! Would you mind if I lit a cigar ? 
Thanks !" And, opening my parasol, he struck a light 
behind it, and began puffing away, with his head 
thrown back, and nursing his knee, as before; the pic- 
ture of serene contentment. His face was calm as the 



* How strange, even pathetic, is the sound of these military metaphors 
from a woman's lips, — Ed. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 327 

placid little lake of which I spoke just now, and ho 
looked as though, the absorbing question in his mind 
being set at rest, he was at my service, to be amused 
and entertained. 

" ' A man of your wide experience, Mr. Don,' said I, 
beginning the skirmishing, ' must have remarked the 
fact that girls will talk.' 

" ' True, very true !' And with dreamy, half-smiling, 
uplifted eyes, he thrust his cigar into the other corner 
of his mouth, as though by anticipation he rolled 
under his tongue some morsel of my nonsense. ' G-o 
on, laughter-compelling siren !' 

" ' Again, you cannot fail to have observed that girls, 
being wound up to talk, by nature, must needs talk 
about one another or — the rest of mankind. As we 
are not philosophers, could it be otherwise?' 

" ' Impossible !' said he, rocking gently to and fro. 
* Proceed, enchantress!' 

" ' Well, you being included among the rest of man- 
kind—' 

" ' You have occasionally honored me ? And what did 
you say about me ?' 

" ' AVith one accord, that you were in love !' 

" ' You have already entrapped me into a confession 
on that point. Chaunt, Circe!' 

" ' But the accord ends there ; wo are not unanimous 
as to the charmer's name.' 

" ' Not unanimous ? I don't understand.' 

" ' Well, Ave female doctors are agreed as to the dis- 
ease, but differ as to its cause. The majority of the 
Faculty at Elmington assign, as the source of your 
trouble, Mary's soulful eyes ; but one or two, even of 
us, and most of the neighboring physicians, urge an- 
other name ; while one or two, with the frankness so 
common among doctors, admit that they do not know 
what is the matter with you.' 

" ' You surprise me I I had gathered from what you 
said but a moment ago, that the symptoms in my case 
were so pronounced as not even to require a formal 
diagnosis.' 

" ' But doctors will differ, and when they do — ' 



328 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" ' The patient must decide. Well, I have done so. 
But — to drop your metaphor — I cannot conceive what 
you mean by suggesting that I have the credit of 
adoring two or more young persons ?' 

"You may recall, Jack, that the Silent Tomb was 
equally perplexed on the same point, and that when I 
asked him 'Mary or Lucy?' he amazed our whole cir- 
cle by bursting into a laugh. Then the wretch, in re- 
peating the names after me, so carefully abstained from 
placing the accent of astonishment on either, that not 
even a professional piano-tuner could have detected any 
difference in the sounds — oh, the artesian well ! I re- 
membered this. The Don had expressed no surprise 
when I named Mary Eolfe; probably, then, it was the 
mention of Lucy that had amazed the S. T. It flashed 
across my female mind, in the tenth part of a second, 
how singularly Mr. Frobisher had acted, after the first 
flush of astonishment was over, — how he pursed up his 
brow, gazed far away, in fact, mooned around in the 
most absurd fashion, instead of telling me all about it 
at once. Would the Don, too, laugh, when I mentioned 
Lucy's name? 

" ' We do you that honor, at any rate,' said I. 

" ' We ? Who are we ? Which of you belong to the 
Eolfe faction, and which to — you have not mentioned 
the name of the other dear charmer?' 

" ' Well, so and so are for Mary, and so and so for the 
other.' 

" ' Her name ? But one moment, — Miss Eolfe herself 
— you failed to place her. Would it be a breach of 
confidence to do so ?' 

" ' She has not taken me into her confidence ; therefore 
I have the right to make what surmises I choose. I place 
her between the two. She does not know what to think.' 

"Again he snapped his head backwards, as though 
he said that he would settle that shortly. Tranquil- 
lized, he relit his cigar, which had gone out, and again 
lolled back ; and cocking up his cigar in the corner of 
his mouth, asked. ' And the other ?' 

" ' Guess,' said I. 

"Dropping his chin on his breast, with a quiet smile, 



THE STORY GF DON MIFF. 329 

ho pretended to reflect for a moment. 'I am afraid I 
shall have to give it up. Oh, how dull I have been ! 
How intolerably stupid !' And placing his hand on his 
heart, he made me a low bow^ ; then throwing back his 
head, with a merry laugh, ' Capital, capital !' he ejacu- 
lated. 

" ' No,' said I, ' her name is not Alice. Guess again. 

" A flash of surprise followed by a look of rising 
curiosity. ' Eeally, you perplex me !' 

" ' You cannot recall any of the girls except Mary, in 
whom you have shown marked interest?' — he shook 
his head — 'an ever increasing interest?' 'An ever in- 
creasing interest?' repeated he, opening his eyes wide 
upon me ; then, looking upon the ground, he appeared 
to reflect. ' Not Miss Kitty ? No? Nor Miss Jennie? 
Not Miss Jennie either ! Upon my word ! But you 
seem serious ; are you really ?' 

" ' I am. You cannot think of any girl whom you 
have visited again and again, of late ?' 

" ' Visited P exclaimed he. ' Why, then she is not one 
of our Elmington guests !' 

" I fixed my eyes upon him, and saw nothing, though 
I had always thought him as transparent as glass. It 
was my turn now to be bewildered. ' What !' I ex- 
claimed, ' can't you guess, now^ to whom I allude ?' 

" Gazing at me with the look of one who had totally 
lost his reckoning, he shook his head slowly from side 
to side. I was positively vexed. There came over me 
the impatient feeling of a teacher who is striving in 
vain to hammer an idea into the head of a numskull. 
'Well, then,' said I, with some heat; and throwing out 
my arm at full length, I pointed across the Eiver. 

" ' Across the Eiver, too,' said he, with contracted 
features. ' Upon my word, this conundrum grows in- 
teresting.' And with his eyes fixed upon the sand, he 
stroked his tawny beard. ' Across the Eiver — let me 
see — Miss Jenny Eoyal — dinner-call — no other visit. 
The Misses Surrey — party-call. Miss Adelaide Temple 
— breakfast — going to pay my respects to-morrow. 
Anywhere else ? No. Well,' said he, suddenly throw- 
ing up his hands, ' I give it up ! What is the answer ?' 

28* 



330 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" I looked at him for a moment, but could make 
nothing of him. 'There! There! There!' I exclaimed, 
at last, stabbing at Oakhurst with my forefinger. 

" ' Where ?' asked he, looking across the Eiver and up 
and down the shore opposite. 

"'There! There!' 

" ' You seem to be pointing to Oakhurst.' 

"My arm dropped across the gunwale. 

"'Oakhurst!' exclaimed he, with a most natural 
look of surprise. ' You don't mean Oakhurst? Why, 
tiiere are no guests there! There is no one but Lucy 
— Miss Lucy !' 

'"That's true,' answered I, dryly. 'No one but 
Lucy.' 

" He leaned forward and scanned my features with a 
mixture of amusement and curiosity. 'Surely you 
have not been alluding to her?' I said nothing. ' Se- 
riousl}^? Yes?' And with a shout of merry laughter, 
he threw back his head with such vigor that his cigar 
flew out of his mouth and over his shoulder upon the 
sand ; and then, without the least warning, his laugh- 
ter ended in an abrupt ' Oh !' 

"He rose to his feet; not with a spring, but slowly, 
slowl}^, thoughtfully tugging at his moustache, and his 
eyes intently glaring into vacancy, as he rose and rose, 
till he seemed to my excited imagination to assume 
almost colossal proportions. Then he slowl}' subsided 
again into his seat, and sat there raking his beard with 
his long fingers. A chilly sensation cre])t over me. I 
tried to speak, but could think of no word wherewith 
to break the spell of silence. At last he turned his 
eyes upon mine. 

" ' So it seems to you that I have been paying Lucy 
Poythress much attention ?' 

'"Seems, Mr. Don? How can you use that word? 
It is a patent fact that must be as clear to your eyes as 
to mine.' 

'"Yes, but what kind of attention? She is musical 
— so am I. I have rowed across the River frequently, 
to play with her. Nay, my object has not been pleas- 
ure alone. I have been giving her what arc called, in 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 331 

Paris, accompaniraent-lessons. Does that amount to 
what is called attention, in a technical sense? And 
you acknowledge yourself that these visits never de- 
ceived you. You never thought that they were prompted 
by love.' 

" ' No, they did not deceive me. What if they have 
deceived — ' 

"'HER!' 

" The word shot from his lips like a ball from a 
cannon. He sprang from the boat and began to stride 
to and fro in the sand, his nostrils dilated and his eyes 
fixed. (He used a dreadful expression, too, which was 
not at all patriotic, though it did end in — nation.) 
Presently he turned quickly towards me, and leaning 
forward, with his hands grasping the gunwale of the 
boat, eagerly asked, ' But, Lucy, surely you do not 
think that — that she — is — what you call interested?' 

" ' She has not betrayed any symptoms of that char- 
acter.' 

" ' Thank you,' said he, seizing my hand with a grip 
that made me wince ; and he began to stride to and fro 
again, till I stopped him. 

" ' But, Mr. Don,' said I, ' though she may not be 
interested now, it does not follow that she may not 
become — ' 

" ' Never fear,' said he, biting his lip with a look of 
fierce determination, and striding up and down again. 

" Thinking to soothe him : ' Be careful ! Eemem- 
ber, we girls think you a handsome, fascinating dog ; 
so don't raise false hopes.' 

"'No danger, no danger!' replied he, earnestly, and 
without even a smile for my compliment. ' What a 
fool I have been !' 

" He stood reflectively stroking his moustache for a 
while, and I thought the scene over, when turning im- 
petuously upon me, and seizing me by both wrists with 
a grasp of steel, ' You don't think so?' he cried. ' Tell 
me you do not, for heaven's sake !' 

"He seemed totally unconscious of the force he was 
using, for he jerked me against the gunwale with such 
violence that I should have been hurt had I not been 



332 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

80 frightened. Oh, what eyes he had ! I can feel their 
glare now, as I remember how he held me as in a vise, 
and, bringing his face close to mine, looked me through 
and through. 

" ' Tell you what ?' I gasped. 

" 'Lucy — she — the poor child — she has not — fallen in 
love with rae : you know ! Tell me so, for Grod's sake !' 

" His fingers sank into my wrists, and his fearful eyes 
burned into my brain. 

" * No ! I am stire she has not !' 

" ' Thanks, thanks, thanks!' he cried ; and lifting both 
my hands to his lips, he covered them with fervid 
kisses. I was not surprised ; I was past that point. 
Had he thrown his arms around me, I honestly believe 
I should have been neither astonished nor angry." 

" I wish he had," said Charley, musing. " Poor boy, 
poor boy ! — well, well !" and, sighing, he fixed his eyes 
upon the fire. 

Alice, with a look of tender sympathy, took her hus- 
band's hand in hers. 



CHAPTEE L. 



The return of our Jason and Medea from the Argo 
was very diff'erent from their departure for that fateful 
craft, if their going had been operatic, their coming 
was elegiac. A salvo of salutations was preparing as 
they approached, and the Gallery watched the couple 
as they drew near, momentarily expecting some out- 
burst of jollity on their part ; but expectancy slowly 
faded as their nearer and nearer approach brought 
into ever clearer view the faces of the Argonaut and 
the Enchantress. 

I have called the Don a man of surprises. "What 
had he been saying to Alice? thought every one as she 
tripped up the piazza steps with an effort to appear 
jaunty and careless ; but her cheeks showed splotches 
of burning red, while his features were pale and set. 
What had happened ? 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 333 

I cannot say what others thought, but I happen to 
have learned since what flashed across Mary's mind. 
The Don had proposed to Alice and Alice had rejected 
him, had declined his first proposal merelj^, for of 
course she could not have meant to reject him for 
good and all. What passed her comprehension was 
how Alice had had the hardihood to propose a walk 
which she must have known was to have that result. 
She was amazed to think how blind she had been all 
along. How could she have failed to remark what 
was patent to all, that the Don hung upon every word 
that fell from Alice's lips ? 

I happen to know, too, what Charley thought : " She 
tackled him! What a girl! what a girl! Bless her 
little heart !" 

"Well, Alice," said my grandfather, "you know the 
rule." Alice looked up. " Whenever any of my girls 
have had a trip on the Argo — " 

" Oh," said Alice, " we kiss you on our return." And 
she suited action to word. 

" I accept the amendment, but that is not what I 
meant. Give an account of yourself What luck ?" 

Alice's face grow serene under the old-time courtesy 
of my grandfather's manner, and she was herself 
again. 

" You will have to excuse me, Uncle Tom. A girl 
who has been properly brought up cannot fail to feel 
that there are occasions when her mother is her only 
j^roper confidant." 

Even the Don laughed at this, and the hard lines 
passed out of his face. He looked at Alice with an ex- 
pression of admiring amusement, seeing how easily she 
had laughed away the awkward pause that their return 
had caused. 

When Mary, poor tempest-tossed soul, saw that ad- 
miring glance, she stamped her foot, though inaudibly, 
— stamped it with vexation, and inwardly begged 
Alice's pardon ; for it was not the glance of a lover, 
rejected or other. 

" There they come down the lawn," suddenly cried 
my grandfather. " Charley, where is the glass ? Thank 



334 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

you. They are getting into the boat, — Mrs. Poythress 
is in, — now for Lucy, — she is in, — and now Mr. P. 
there! The first flash of the oars! They are off! 
Charley," added he, handing the glass to Mrs. Carter, 
'' did you think to send word to the Herr to come, as 
the Poythresses were to spend the day with us? Ah, 
I remember, he could not come. Well, Lucy and Mr. 
Smith will have to entertain us to-da}^" 

" Ah," sighed Mary, " in that boat sits my real rival. 
How could I have thought such a thing of dear Alice?" 

When the boat nearecl the shore, the gentlemen (there 
were only three at Elmington at this time, — my grand- 
father, Charley, and the Don) went to meet the guests. 
Mrs. Carter went also, to greet Mrs. Poythress; and 
Alice, too; sa3'ing, Avhen she saw her mother leaning 
on Mr. Whacker's arm, that she thought it prudent to 
look after her father's interests, when her mother 
was carrying on so in his absence. I am afraid, how- 
ever, that she did not keep a very strict watch on her 
mother; for she and Charley were soon considerably in 
the rear of the rest, and engaged, as was obvious to 
Mar}^ (who remained on the piazza), in a very earnest 
conversation, the subject of which it hardly needed a 
Avoman's instinct to divine. She felt sure that her 
friend was describing to Charley her interview with 
the Don ; and as Alice grew more and more earnest in 
her manner and vehement in her gestures, her curiosity 
rose at last into a sickening intensity, for a voice whis- 
pered in her ear that she, somehow, was deeply con- 
cerned in what those two were saying. She forgot 
where she was, forgot the girls seated near her, saw 
only Charley and Alice ; and leaning farther and farther 
forward, as they receded, strove to drink in with her 
soulful eyes the words that her ears could not hear. 

" Gracious, Mary, what is the matter?" 

She had seen Alice stop and turn towards Charley 
and gaze at him with an almost tragic earnestness. 
Then, suddenly springing towards him and seizing his 
wrist, she had given him a pull that shook his equilib- 
rium. With nerves unstrung by the harassing doubts 
of the last few weeks, and wrought up to the highest 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 335 

pitch of painful curiosity as to the subject-matter of 
the singular interview between Ab'ce and the Don in 
the Argo that morning, — seeing Alice detailing that 
interview to Charley, — when she witnessed Alice's vio- 
lent illustration of what must have occurred between 
her and the Don, Mary had leaped, with a cry, from her 
seat. 

" Gracious, Mary, what is the matter?" 

At these words of her neighbor Mary sank back in 
her chair with a vivid blush and a contused smile, and 
was silent. 

"You frightened me so! I thought some one had 
fallen out of the boat, perhaps. What was the matter?" 

"I am sure I can't tell; 1 suppose I must have been 
dreaming." 

The neighbor cast her eyes towards the boat, and 
seeing among the approaching guests Lucy leaning on 
the Don's arm, thought her own thoughts. 

The day was an unusually warm one for February, 
and, a vote being taken, it was decided not to enter the 
house; and our friends soon grouped themselves to 
their liking on the sunny piazza ; the elders at one end, 
in the middle the young people, except Charley and 
Alice, who sat by themselves at the other end of the 
porch. 

These twain often found themselves isolated now. 
Wherever they chose their seats every one seemed to 
think they needed room, and moved otf, — treatment 
that Charley bore like the philosopher that he was. 
The fact is that, from being a man who seemed to have 
nothing to say, he became, about this time, one who 
could not find time to sa}^ all that he had on his mind. 
At this period of his life he used to lie awake in bed, 
for hours and hours, as he has since confessed to me 
[And to me. A.'] [Wh-e-e-e-w ! 0. F.'], running over 
in his mind the things that he had omitted to say to 
Alice the evening before, and resolving to say them 
all immediately after breakfast next morning. On this 
occasion a mountain torrent of words had risen in his 
Boul during the hour's absence of his charmer in the 
Argo. But he was not uttering them. Nor did it 



336 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

matter in the least, as they would have been as like 
thousands of others that he had been whispering and 
whispering into her rosy ear, as one drop of water of 
the supposed torrent was like another. The twain 
were rather silent, in fact. They were quietly watch- 
ing the Don and Lucy. 

One other pair of eyes took in every movement of 
the Don, another pair of ears lost never a word nor an 
inflection of his voice. (Mary was, it is true, engaged 
in an animated discussion with Mr. Poythress on the 
subject of Byron, — he denouncing the man, while she 
lauded the poet, — but then she was a woman.) "How 
changed he is!" sighed she. "A moment ago, pale as 
ashes ; how bright and cheerful now ! And Lucy ! I 
think I should try not to look quite so happ}^, if I were 
you ! Why not announce your engagement in words, 
as you are doing every moment by your manner?" 

Alice, on the contrary, to Charley : " How well he is 
acting his part! He knows we are looking at him, and 
see the easy air of an old friend that he has assumed 
towards Lucy! Not assumed, either, for his bearing 
towards her has always been just that." 

"So I have always thought," said Charley. 

" Certainly ; only that manner is rather more pro- 
nounced than usual. The merest glance would con- 
vince any one that he was no lover of Lucy's." 

" * He that hath bent him o'er the dead, 
Ere the first day of death is fled, — 
The first dark day,' " etc., etc., 

quoted Mary. 

No voice that I have ever heard quite equalled Mary's 
in sweetness, even in familiar talk. Soft and tender, it 
was yet singularlj- clear, though marked by a certain 
patrician absence of that exaggerated articulation so 
characteristic of other communities, where not the 
norma loquendi of gentle ancestors is the touchstone of 
speech, but the printed word, and the spelling-book, 
and the unlovely precision of the free school. But now 
that she was uttering a wail over her own crushed 
heart, and, in unison therewith, Byron's passionate 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 337 

lament over the dead glories of the Greece of Ther- 
inop^ise and of Marathon, the tremulous fervor of her 
vibrating tones was touching beyond description. Two 
or three fair heads had clustered near hers to catch her 
low-breathed words ; and when, turning to Kr. Poy- 
thress with a certain triumphant enthusiasm in her 
soulful eyes, she, with a slight but impassioned gesture, 
ended with the words, " 'Tis Greece, but living Greece 
no more," there was a sense of choking in more than 
one snowy throat. 

As for Mrs. Carter, — sympathetic soul, — I am told 
that there were actually tears in her eyes. 

"Upon my word," began Mr. Poythress, ready to 
yield. 

Perhaps Mary heard what he said as he re-defined 
bis position ; but his words can be of no interest to the 
reader. 

" See," mused she, " what an easy air he has assumed 
towards Lucy! And Luc}' ! how matter-of-fact! 
Any one could see at half a glance that they were 
acknowledged lovers. See with what an air of con- 
tent he looks about him! There, he is exchanging 
glances with Alice; and she understands him, of 
course. She is telling Mr. Frobisher that they are en- 
gaged. Ah, he glanced at me, then, and so furtively! 
No wonder he averts his e3'es when they meet mine ! 
Yet even yesterday I thought I saw in his look — well, 
well ; that is all over." 

Alice, on the contrary : " See, he can't keep his eyes 
off her! He is just dying to say something to her; 
and it will be to the point. Ah, Uncle Tom has put 
himself just between us." And she leaned forward so 
as to put Charley almost behind her back, but went on 
talking, all the same, in a low voice: "How could 
those girls have thought that he was in love with Lucy 
or Lucy in love with him !" 

" Horrible !" ejaculated Charley, in a voice that star- 
tled Alice. She turned and looked at him. Had she 
turned more quickly, she might have caught a differ- 
ent expression on his face. As it was, he was gazing 
out upon the Eiver with a stony calm upon his features, 
p w; 29 



338 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" What did you say ?" asked she, beginning to doubt 
her ears. '"Horrible?"' 

"Who? I?" And the gray eyes met the hazel 
without blinking. 

" Did you not say that the idea of the Don and Lucy 
being lovers was horrible?" 

" Very likely. Of late I have been capable of saying 
anything." 

" What did you mean ?" 

"If I said it, — which I don't admit ; and if I meant 
anything, — which, hkely enough, I did not — " 

" ' Horrible' is so unlike you." 

" Now you flatter me." 

" Tell me, goose.*' 

" You say that the Don loves Mary. Then wouldn't 
it be sad if Lucy loved him? And you tell me that 
Mary loves the Don. Now wouldn't it be too bad if 
the Don loved Lucy ? Ought not true love to run 
smooth if it can ?" 

Alice fixed her e3^es upon Charlej-'s, and scanned his 
features long and intentlj^ There was nothing to be 
seen there save a smile that was almost infantile in its 
sweetness and simplicity. "Do you think I am hand- 
some ?" asked he, languidl}-. " The}^ tell me I am good." 

"Do you know, Mr. Frobisher, I sometimes think 
you know more about the — There she goes, and he 
after her!" 

'"Mr. Poythress," Mary had said, laughing, "my 
defence of Byron has made my throat dry." 

"Nor did it lack much of making our eyes moist," 
replied he, with a courtly inclination of his patrician 
head. 

" Let me get you a glass of water," interrupted the 
Don, moving towards the door. 

"Ah, thank you, never mind." And rising hastily, 
she made for the door with a precipitancy that vexed 
Alice ; for she saw in it a pointed indication of un- 
willingness on Mary's part to accept even this little 
service at the hands of the Don. She moved so rapidly 
that she had passed in at the door before the Don could 
reach it; but he, whether or not he interpreted her 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 339 

motives as Alice did, followed her within the house. 
Instantly the cloud that had passed over Alice's face 
was gone, and a sudden smile shone forth. She sprang 
to her feet. " Why do we tarrj^ here all the day ? It 
is moved and seconded that we adjourn to the Hall. 
Fall in, company ! Attention ! Shoulder — I mean 
seize arms!" And skipping away from Charley, she 
laid hands upon Mr. Poythress ('' You take Mrs. Poy- 
thress," she had whispered to Charley; "that will 
make them all come"), and away they marched down 
the steps and across the lawn, towards the Hall, Alice 
leading with her rataplan, rataplan, and enacting a 
sort of combination of captain, drum-major, and vivan- 
diere. 

Nothing so much delighted our slaves, in those days, 
as any jollity on the part of their masters. Happy 
and careless themselves, when they saw their betters 
unbend they realized more clearly, perhaps, that they 
were men and brothers. 

"Lord 'a' mussy!" cried Aunt Polly at the kitchen 
door, letting fall a dish-cloth. 

"What dat, gal?" carelessly asked Uncle Dick, who 
sat breakfasting in his usual stately and leisurely fash- 
ion. Aunt Polly made no reply, being seized with a 
sudden paroxysm which caused her to collapse into 
half her normal stature. Straightening herself out 
again, and wiping her eyes with her apron, "Oh, 
Lord, how long!" she ejaculated, giving the door-sill 
two simultaneous flaps with slippers that were a w^orld 
too wide. "What's a-comin' next? dat's all I wants to 
know." And she began to rock to and fro. Seeing her 
for the second time telescope into a three-foot cook : 

"What de matter wid de gal ?" said Uncle Dick, rising 
with dignit}^, and wiping his rather unctuous lips. 

"'Fore Gaud," cried his spouse, "I do b'lieve dat chile 
gwine to make everybody at Elmin'ton crazy befo' she 
done. Mussiful heaven, jess look at ole mahrster, and 
he a-steppin' high as a colt, and Miss Alice a-struttin' 
jess like she had on a ridgimental unicorn, and a-back-. 
in' and a-linin' of 'em up wid her parasol! Forrard, 
march! Jess lissen at her sojer talk, and ain't she a 



340 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

pretty little critter? No wonder Marse Charley ravin' 
'stracted 'bout her. Lor', Dick, let de boy look!" 

Zip, by a dextrous ducking of his head, had just 
evaded the sweeping palm of his chief "What is dese 
young niggers a-comin' to?" exclaimed this virtuous 
personage. "Boy, don't you see dem flies." And he 
pointed to the table he had just left. "And you a- 
gapin' at de white folks, 'stid o' mindin' your business!" 

One of the perquisites of Zip's position as junior 
butler was waving a feather brush over the bald head 
of his senior when he sat at meat. Dick had elected 
him to this office on the plea of fotchin' of him up in 
the way he should go; and, being a strict disciplinarian, 
had resented his abandoning the post of duty without 
orders. 

Zip made a perfunctory dash, with his brush, at the 
flies, — whom, by the way, he somewhat resembled in 
disposition; for as you shall not ruffle the temper, or 
even hurt the feelings of one of these, during your 
afternoon nap, by a slap, be it ever so violent and con- 
tumelious, if it but miss him ; so Zip-Moses accounted 
all blows that failed to reach that anvil-shaped head of 
his not as insults and injuries, but clear gain rather. 
Zip, therefore, was not long in finding his way back, on 
tiptoe, to where he could get a glimpse of what was 
going forward on the lawn ; even as that reckless in- 
sect blanches not as he tickles the somnolent nose of a 
blacksmith ; for hath he not his weather e^^e upon the 
doughty fist of his foe ? 

"Left face!" cried Alice; "forward, file right, 
march !" And her company went tumbling with bursts 
of laughter up the steps and into the Hall. 

Lucy took her seat at the piano. 

"Why, where is the Don?" asked my grandfather, 
looking round. 

"Lucy has a new solo for us," said Alice, — "per- 
haps, — " added she, conscience-stricken. 

"Oho!" cried Mr. Whacker, settling himself. 

"What new solo?" asked Lucy. 

"That — what do you call it?" replied Alice, rather 
vaguely. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 341 

"The Sonata I have been learning?" 
" " Oh, yes ; that's what we want." 

Luc}^ struck the opening chords and began. 

Charley leaned carelessly forward and whispered in 
Alice's ear, — 

" This is a solo ; that V And he nodded slightly in 
the direction of the house. 

" A duet. What did you think of my manoeuvre?" 

" Immense!" 



NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC. 

BEING AN INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER LI. 

How and by how many cooks this broth has been 
brewed, our patrons have already been duly informed. 
Up to this point the firm, as a firm, has been respon- 
sible for everything that has been ^vritten ; for though 
our Mr. Whacker, having the pen of a ready writer, 
has had the task of arranging our wares in show-cases, 
our silent partners have furnished the bulk of said 
wares. And we desire to say to the public that our 
joint labors have been, thus far, carried forward most 
joyously, and with perfect harmony. 

Save only in one particular. 

Our female associate has been grumbling, from the 
very first, at the treatment that Love has received at 
the hands of our Mr. Whacker. She has again and. 
again protested against what she calls the mocking 
touches of his pencil, when he would portray that pas- 
sion which is so tender, and yet hath power to move 
the world. He, on his side, has defended his handi- 
work, if not with success, at least with a certain manly 
vigor, having observed more than once that he could 
not for the life of him get it into his head how it could 
be High Art to make your heroes say in a book what a 
Christian would be hanged before he would say, or be 
overheard saying, at least, in real life; adding, with a 



342 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

tartness born of his wrangles at the Bar, that it passed 
bis comprehension whj- authors should be at the pains 
of causing imaginary beings to make fools of them- 
selves, when nature had served so many real ones that 
turn. In reply, our Alice said that, if that were so, 
the}' were but holding the mirror up to nature; a re- 
tort that seemed to dispose of our legal brother; and so 
our Alice was encouraged to go on and add (using the 
bluntness of a friend) that all this talk about love- 
making being an exhibition of an aggravated type of 
idiocy was, to use the mildest name, the merest affec- 
tation, and could have originated only in the brain of a 
sore-headed old bachelor, who is forever talking of 
marrying, but who has not the vaguest conception of 
what love really means. Our Charley, meanwhile, 
would only smoke and chuckle and chuckle and smoke, 
when we asked for his vote to end our controversy ; 
and as his smoke- wreaths were perfectly symmetrical, 
inclining neither this way nor that, and as he chuckled 
on both sides of him, neither of us belligerents had the 
least pretext for claiming the victory. Yet, in the end, 
it was he who closed our debate. 

" Jack- Whack," said he (ever judicious), "turn about 
is fair play. Suppose we let Alice write this fifty-first 
chapter. Let it be hers entirely, and let her acknowl- 
edge it as such, while you may disown it." 

To this we are all agreed. In testimony whereof 
we have hereunto, etc., etc., etc. 

Charles Frobisher. [Seal.] 

Alice Ditto. [Seal.] 

John Bouche Whacker. [Seal.*] 

{^Porpoise. Ha ! ha ! ha .'] 

When Charley came out with his Compromise Eeso- 
lutions, Alice was at first much taken aback, turning 
red and white by turns; nor do I believe she would 
ever have consented, had I not permitted myself to 
smile a rather triumphant smile of defiance. It was 
then that, nettled by this, she brought down herjilump 
little fist upon the table and cried, ^^ III do iV 

"Brava !" cried Charley, jiatting her on the back. 



THE STORV OF DON MIFF. 343 

"And you, sir!" said she, turning upon hiui. "I 
don't believe you think I can do it." 

" I believe you capable of anything." 

" Well, I will show you. Decamp forthwith, both 
of you!" 

Charley and I decamped accordingly, and betook 
ourselves to a ver}^ pleasant beer-garden (for this col- 
loquy chanced to be held in Eichmond), where we 
spent a couple of hours. On our return we found 
Alice sitting with dishevelled hair and looking very 
disconsolate. 

'' Where is chapter fifty-one?" 

Alice pointed rather snappishly to the waste-basket, 
in w^iich Vaj several sheets of paper, torn into shreds. 

" Ah !" said I, " let us put the pieces together, Charley, 
and see how she got on." And Charle}^ and I made for 
the basket. The result was a battle royal, at the end of 
which the shreds had become bits of the size of postage- 
stamps, mingled with which, all over the room, lay the 
ruins of the basket. 

" You give it up, then ?" 

" Not for a moment," replied she, panting. 

A week passed before Alice summoned us to hear her 
chapter read. Not with a view to criticism, however; 
for it was agreed that neither Charley nor I should 
utter one word, either of praise or censure. Whatever 
she produced was to be printed just as she wrote it; 
and here it is, word for word, just as it came from her 
pen. 

And if any reader, during its perusal, shall come to 
doubt whether it be, in truth, her production ; if be 
shall fail to discover one solitary trait of our merry- 
sparkling, laugh-compelling enchantress, it will be but 
another proof that what people are has nothing to do 
with what they write. If, for example, the reader 
shall find this work dull — but enough. 

Moving nearer the lamp, Alice read with a resolute 
spirit but faltering voice as follows : 



344 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

CHAPTER LI. 

BY ALICE FROBISHER, LOVE-EDITOR. 

They stood face to face, these two ; he with out- 
stretched hand to receive the goblet which she held. 

" I'd rather help myself" 

" Why ? But of course, if you prefer it." And he 
stood aside. 

She glanced at his face. " Oh, I didn't mean to be 
rude. Help me, then ; thank you." And barely moist- 
ening her lips (for somehow a choking sensation seized 
her), she handed him back the tumbler. 

It is in our premonitions that we women have some 
compensation for our inferiority in strength to men. 
It was not an accident that the Pythia and the Sibyl 
were women. The delicate, responsive fibre of her 
nervous system makes every woman half a prophetess. 

" You must have been parched with thirst," said he, 
holding up the goblet, with a smile. 

"I suppose it was only imagination." 

Trivial words ; yet he knew and she felt that a crisis 
in their lives was at hand. It is thus, I am told, that 
soldiers will often joke and babble of nothings when 
crouched along the frowning edge of battle. 

" Only imagination," said he, catching at the words. 
(They were walking slowly, side by side, from the 
dining-room to the parlor.) "And is there anything 
else in life worth living for? The facts of life, what 
are they but dry crusts, the merest husks, which con- 
tent the body, perhaps, while leaving the soul unsatis- 
fied ?" 

It was to minor chords, as I have said somewhere 
above, that Mary's nature gave readiest response; and 
these had been struck with no uncertain hand. 

"You speak feelingly," said she, without looking up. 

"And no wonder; for of these husks of life — husks 
without a kernel — I have had my share ; but of late — " 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 345 

They had reached the parlor window and found the 
piazza deserted. How inconsistent is the human heart, 
more especially that of woman. Marj^ had longed to 
find herself alone, for one short quarter of an hour, 
with this man who had so troubled her peace. She had 
confidence in her woman's tact, — felt sure that, if 
opportunity were given, she could pluck away the 
mask which concealed his heart, without revealing her 
own. Strangely enough, during all the time they had 
been under one roof, she had not had such an oppor- 
tunity. This had, in fact, been one cause of her 
troubled curiosity. He had seemed studiously to avoid 
finding himself alone with her, and with her only of all 
the girls. It had come now, — come so suddenly, — and 
she trembled. She leaned out of the window. 

" They are all gone," said she, withdrawing her head 
and looking up at the Don with a scared look. 

Was not that sinking of the heart a presage of 
sorrow? Would it not have been better for thee, 
poor child, to have hearkened to the voice of its Cas- 
sandra-throbs? Better to have hastened to the Hall, 
whence thou couldst even now hear issuing the sounds 
of merry music, and found safety in numbers? Some- 
thing whispered this in her fluttering heart. 

" But of late," repeated the man of her destiny. 

" Let us join our friends in the Hall," said she, faintly. 

Wise words, but spoken too late. Too late ; for she 
felt herself compassed round about by a nameless spell 
that would not be broken ; entwined in cords soft as 
silk but strong as fate. 

" They seem to be getting on famously without us." 

'' Yes, but I thought—" 

" Thought what ?" 

" I thought you must be longing to hear Lucy play." 
And she gave a hasty glance at his face. 

There was a revelation in the look that met hers. 
The veil that had darkened her vision fell away. 
Through those glorious eyes of his, so full of tender 
flame, she saw into his heart of hearts ; and no image 
of Lucy was imprinted thereon ; nor had ever been. 
'Twas her own, instead, sat enthroned there. 



346 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Wrung as she had been, for weeks, with conflicting 
emotions, the revulsion of feeling that now came over 
her was too great for her strength. Her knees tottered 
beneath her ; the room swam before her eyes. 

"Somehow I feel a little tired," said she; and she 
sank down upon a sofa which stood near. 

Where was all her tact gone ? Was she not to un- 
veil his heart while hiding her own? 

All is fair in love and war ; and in both the best-laid 
schemes are undone by a surprise. The enemy had 
found the citadel unguarded and rushed in. 

" Will you allow me ?" said he. 

She made no reply beyond a faint smile, and he took 
his seat beside her. 

" You spoke of music just now. Lucy has a charm- 
ing touch ; but I know a voice that is, to me at least, 
richer than all the harmonies of a symphony, softer 
than an iEolian harp, gentler than the cooing of a 
dove." 

She made a brave effort to look unconscious. " Oh, 
how beautiful it must be ! How I should like to hear 
such a voice !" 

" I hear it now ! I am drinking it in !" 

It was a draught which seemed to intoxicate him ; 
and the circle of the spell which bound them grew 
narrower. She could feel his eager, frequent breath 
upon her cheek, whose burning glow lent a more liquid 
lustre to her dark eyes. They spoke little. What 
need of multiplying words? Did they not know all? 
Ah, supremest moment of our lives, and restfullest, 
when two souls rush together, at last, and are one ! 

Somehow, by chance, just then — if things which 
always manage to happen can be said to come by 
chance — somehow their hands met. Met somewhere 
along the back of the sofa, perhaps — but no matter. 

Hardly their hands, either. It was the forefinger 
tip, merely, of his right hand that chanced to rest its 
weight across the little finger of her left. 

A taper and a soft and a dainty little finger, — and a 
weak, withal. Why should it scamper off before it 
was hurt ? After all, it was but an accident, perhaps, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. Ml 

and a neighborly sort of accident, at the worst. Who 
could say that it was a bold, bad forefinger ? Perhaps 
it did not know it was there ! 

And so that weak little digit Xaj there, still as a 
mouse, though blushing, blushing (ah me, how it did 
blush !), and all of a flutter. 

After all, are not even strangers continually shaking 
hands ? And if that be so, why should one run away, 
merely because — but the thing is not worth a discussion. 

I have been much longer in telling it than it was in 
happening. The thrill had barely flushed through that 
rose-tipped little digit when he seized her hand, and 
taking it in both his, pressed it again and again to his 
heart; then the other; and drawing her towards him, 
bent over her and breathed into her ear words never 
to be forgotten. Not many, but strong, — vehement 
with long-suppressed passion. 

As though a mountain-torrent had burst its bonds. 

She had read of innumerable wooings and imagined 
many besides; but never one like this. She tried to 
speak, she knew not what, but her tongue refused to 
do its office. 

" And have you no word for me ? No little word of 
hope ?" 

She raised her eyes to his. It was but for a moment ; 
for she could not longer withstand his impassioned 
gaze. But in that brief glance, half wondering, half 
shrinking, he read his answer, and in an instant she 
found herself enveloped in those mighty arms, — found 
herself lying across that broad chest, his right arm 
around her, his left supporting her head, that nestled 
with upturned face against his shoulder. With upturned 
face and closed eyes. 

She had surrendered at discretion. When she felt 
herself, again and again, pressed to his heart, she made 
no protest; — gave no sign when he devoured her 
cheeks, her lips, with kisses, countless, vehement-ten- 
der, — lay upon that broad shoulder in a kind of swoon. 

She had waited so long and it had come so suddenly, 
this cyclone of love ! 

Lay there upon that broad chest, — she so little, — 



348 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

'with upturned face but closed lids, from beneath which 
forced their way drop after drop of happy tears. 
Happy tears? Did not they too tremble, tremble, as 
they lingered, waiting to be kissed away? 

Lay there, nestled upon that strong arm, and drunk 
with the wine of young love ; the past forgot, the future 
banished, — living in the present alone. A present, de- 
licious, dreamy, and wrapped in rose-colored incense- 
breathing mist. Shutting out all the world save only 
him and her. From afar comes floating to her ear, 
from the Hall, the sound of muffled laughter, — comes 
floating the drowsy tinkling of the piano, meaningless 
and inane! All things else are shams. Love alone is 
real I 

Yes, pillow thy head upon that arm, thy heart upon 
that hope, while yet thou mayest ! 

For dost not heed how within that deep chest, against 
which thy fair young bosom palpitates and flutters, — 
markest thou not how 'tis a lion-heart seems to beat 
therein ? To beat thereunder with tempestuous thud, 
ominous of storm and wreck ? 

And those eyes, so wondrous tender now, and soft 
(for even if thou hast not stolen a look between thy 
dewy lids, thou hast felt their caressing glances), and 
those loving eyes ? Hast forgotten how their change- 
ful, bickering flashes once filled thy heart with dread, 
even before he was aught to thee ? 

If thou hast, dream on — dream on while thou mayest I 



CHAPTEE LIL 



With the last word Alice dropped the manuscript on 
the table, and hastily left the room. Charley shot 
forth, with a vigorous puff, a ring of heroic propor- 
tions. 

" Upon my word, Jack, I didn't think it was in the 
old girl I Capital ! It is, by Jove !" 

" Capital," said I. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 349 

"Yes," said he, " it is. But, I say. Jack—" 

" Wliat?" said I, with some expectanc}'', for he had 
lowered his voice to a confidential whisper. 

" It is very clever in the old girl, and all that, you 
know. Jove ! didn't she hit out on a high line ? 
* Incense-breathing mist,' — how does that strike you, 
Hein ? And ' tempestuous thud ?' — what have you got 
to say to that ? And ' bickering eyes ?' But I say, 
Jack-Whack, old boy—" 

"Well?" 

" I say, you won't tell her what I am going to say ?" 

" Of course not." 

"Well, I won't deny that it is well written, and in a 
high, romantic vein; but — now you won't tell her? — 
but before I would have it thought that I wrote that 
chapter, you might shoot me with a brass-barrelled 
pistol." 

With that he took up the manuscript, and began 
running his eye over it and reading aloud passages 
here and there. We both (I am ashamed to say) soon 
got to laughing, and Charley at last went off into an 
almost hysterical state, the tears streaming down his 
cheeks. Just then Alice suddenly re-appeared, and his 
features snapped together like a steel trap. Charley, 
in point of fact, was not laughing at his wife, but 
rather at the inherent absurdity of all love-scenes; 
but he felt guilty when she entered the room, and 
looked preternaturally solemn. 

"What is the matter?" asked Alice. 

" I thought it was agreed that there were to be no 
criticisms ?" 

"Yes; but you and Jack have been criticising my 
chapter already." 

" In your absence, of course." 

" And I heard you laughing." 

"Laughing? What do you suppose there was to 
laugh at ? In point of fact, I said it was capital ; didn't 
I, Jack ?" 

" Yes ; and I agreed with him." 

" Eeally ?" asked she, looking from one to the other 
of us with keen suspicion in her eyes. 

30 



350 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" Yes ; honestly, my dear, it does you credit." 

Alice looked pleased. 

" Of course, however, any one could tell, at a glance, 
that it was from a woman's pen." 

"I don't see why," said she, bridling. "So far from 
that being the case, I'll bet you a box of gloves that 
when the book comes out, the critics will say that not 
one line of it w^as written b}' me, and that I am a 
purely mythical personage, invented out of the whole 
cloth." 

" Done," said he ; " thej^ will say nothing of the kind. 
By the way, can you tell me, Alice, why it is that 
w^omen always put so much hugging and kissing in 
their books ?" 

" I believe they do," said Alice, laughing. 

"Jack would not have dared to make that chapter 
so — so — warm, in fact. Why, it took away my breath, 
the brisk way in w^hich you enveloped Mary in the 
Don's arms. Jack could not have brought about such 
a consummation in less than three chapters." 

" So much the worse for Jack. It was human nature, 
— woman's nature, at any rate." 

''Oho! live and learn. Jack!" 

" I am taking notes." 

"And act on them," rejoined Alice, with a rather 
malicious allusion to certain recent incidents in my own 
personal career. " Women like aggressive lovers j so 
next time — " 

"But really, Alice," said Charley, coming to my 
rescue, " that chapter of yours — such as it is, — now no 
offence, — I mean giving, as it does, a love-passage from 
a woman's point of view, is very well done. And one 
thing, Jack, seems to me especially to be commended. 
It is positively artistic, the way in which she contrives 
to cast a shadow upon the pair, as they sit basking in 
the sunshine of — ah — in fact — sunshine of young love — 
ahem — match, Jack — thank you — ahem." Charley 
reddened a little, conscious of having been betrayed 
into an unwonted burst of eloquence. "And very 
cleverly indeed," added he, " that shadow is wrought 
by the very flash of light which will give our readers a 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 351 

momentary glimpse of certain lines in the nature of 
poor Dory, which you had not previously brought out." 

^^ Inexorahilis acer^' said I, musing. 

" Oh, yes," said Alice, turning to her husband; "how 
often have I heard you apply those words to your poor 
friend. They are not to be found — in — Yirgil? At any 
rate, I cannot recall such a passage." 

" l!^o ; they are part of a verse in which Horace gives 
a characterization of Achilles." 



CHAPTEE LIII. 



I HAVE said that Mary was romantic; and I don't 
know that I could give any clearer proof of the fact 
than this : as she laj^ sleepless that night, reviewing 
the scenes and events of the last few months, and more 
especially of the preceding day, — as she lay there 
silently pondering, and realized that she knew nothing 
of the history, and was far from sure that she knew 
even the name of the man to whom she had so thor- 
oughly committed herself, — she felt no wish that mat- 
ters stood otherwise. Nay, she even found herself re- 
joicing in the cloud of mystery that surrounded her 
lover; and, to tell the truth, it was with a feeling of 
relief that she had heard the sound of footsteps and 
the hum of voices, the day before, announcing the re- 
turn from the Hall, just as she had gathered from the 
Don's manner that he was on the verge of a revelation. 
But they had been interrupted, and she had, for one 
niore day, at least, the privilege — a delicious one to a 
girl of her temperament — of allowing her imagination, 
unshackled by hard fact, to play around this strangely 
interesting man, who had shot like a meteor athwart 
her path. Singularly enough, — or it would have been 
strange, did we not all know the confidence without 
reserve which a woman ever j^laces in the man to 
whom she has given her heart, — strangely enough, 
Mary felt not the slightest misgiving on the score of 

30 



352 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

the revelation she had reason to look for on the mor- 
row. She had not the least dread that that revelation 
might prove of such a character as to make imperative 
an instant breaking off of relations with the Don. 
What she dreaded was the dispersal of her illusions, 
the end of her sweet dreams. To-day she could im- 
agine — to-morrow she would know. 

And so, next day, when our friends sallied forth for 
a walk, and it fell out, partly through the manoeuvering 
of Alice, that Mary and the Don began to be farther 
and farther isolated from the rest, her heart began to 
beat so quick and hard that utterance became diflScult. 
Her comj^anion, too, seemed preoccupied, and their con- 
versation became a tissue of the baldest commonplace. 
At last he stood still, and with eyes fixed upon the 
ground, was silent, — silent for an age, as it seemed to 
Mary. At last he looked up. 

"Mary," he began, — it was the first time he had ever 
addressed her thus, and her heart gave a quick beat of 
pleasure, — " Mary, there is something I must sa}^ to 
you, and we could not find a better opportunity. There 
is the Argo ; let us take seats in it." 

She assented in silence and with a sudden sinking of 
the heart ; for there rushed before her mind, in tumult- 
uous throng, all the dreadful possibilities of the coming 
revelation. 

" Is not this," said she, as she took her seat upon one 
of the benches, " the first visit that you and I have 
made to the ' Fateful' ?" 

" ' The Fateful,' " she repeated to herself Was the 
name ominous ? And she strove to hide, beneath a 
careless smile, the deep agitation that she felt. " Do 
you know, I feel that I have a right to quarrel with 
you ? For I alone of all the girls have never been 
honored by you with an invitation to visit the Argo. 
It almost looks like an intentional slight. Was it?" 

She was talking at random, hardly knowing what she 
said ; anxious only to put off for a few brief moments 
the explanation which she had suddenly begun to look 
upon with genuine terror. 

It is thus that, when, with swollen cheek, we have 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 353 

taken our seat in his elaborate chair, we strive to delay 
the pitiless dentist (while he, adamantine soul, selects 
from his jingling store the instrument most diabolically 
suited to our case), happy with a happiness all too 
briefly bright, if he will but turn and admit that the 
day is fine. [Jack's mocking pencil, again ! I protest. 
Alice.'] 

" Yes, it was intentional." 

She looked up. 

" Well, not a slight, of course, but intentional." 

"Why? I cannot imagine." But she did imagine 
why, though but vaguely. 

" Ah ! I am glad you ask that question. It enables 
me to begin." 

But he did not begin. He knit his brows instead, 
and fixed his eyes in perplexity upon the shining sand. 
" I hardly know what to say to you." 

" Then don't say anything," exclaimed she, eagerly. 

" Don't say anj^thing?" 

" Well, not about that r 

"About thatr 

" Well, you know — " 

"Yes, I dare say we are both thinking about the 
same thing." 

" ' Great minds will,' etc., you know — " 

" Sa}^ loving hearts." And he took her hand. " Yes, 
I admit that I have studiously avoided finding myself 
alone with you." 

" Were you afraid of me ? I am very little !" 

"I was afraid of myself; yesterday proved how 
justly so." 

"Do you regret yesterday ?" 

" I am afraid I do not. But I ought to. I had no 
right to tell you I loved you." 

" It is an inalienable right of every man to tell his 
love." 

" At any rate, I beg your pardon for having spoken 
mine." 

" I find forgiveness amazingly easy," said she, laugh- 
ing. Then, seriously, " Indeed, your scruples are over- 
nice. The sweetest music that can fall on the ear of a 
X 30* 



354 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

woman is, as Alice says, loving words. Why should 
we be denied it? What else have we to live for?" 

" But I owe it to you—" 

"You owe me nothing!" exclaimed she, hastily. 

" But I wish to tell you—" 

" Tell me nothing ! I know what you wish to say, 
but you shall not say it, — not yet, at least." 

He smiled. 

" No ; I see you before me, hear your voice ; I have 
known you, such as you are, for months. I wish to 
know no more, just now. Let me dream on ; do not 
awaken me. Let me float on," she continued, realis- 
tically clasping the gunwale of the Argo, " over rose- 
tipped waves, careless what shores lie beyond. Let 
me dream yet a little longer." And rising from her 
seat, she dropped on one knee in front of him, and 
bringing her two hands together, placed them within 
his. " Not one word. I trust you ; I am satisfied,'' said 
she, with a voice low yet ringing, ringing with proud 
enthusiasm, — a voice full of strange thrills, vibrating, 
eloquent. This, her speaking attitude, and the impas- 
sioned faith that illumined her eyes, fired his breast 
with an indescribable glow of ecstasy. Pressing her 
hands between his and raising his eyes, he exclaimed 
with a fervor that was almost religious, — 

"Adorable Mary! I have dreamed dreams, I have 
seen visions, but none could compare with this!" 

The exaltation of his voice, the spiritual glory of 
his upturned eyes, the sudden burst of fervor, the 
overmastering force of his impetuous manhood, hurried 
Mary's imagination to gidd}^ heights. She could have 
fallen down and worshipped him. 

"Come," said he, more gently; "take that seat and 
listen to me for a moment." 

She made as though she would place tw^o fingers on 
his lips. 

" No !" said he (placing his lips on the two fingers). 
"Since j^ou wish it, I will leave unsaid what 1 pur- 
posed saying. It is a strange whim on your part, but an 
altogether charming one to me, since it gives me the 
right to believe that you value me for myself alone. I 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 355 

sball, therefore, respect this fancy of yours as long as 
you desire. But if I may not tell you who I am, I may 
at least say what I am not. I am not an adventurer. 
You toss your head ; your faith is lovely, but you 
know I might have been one. No? Well, at any rate, 
I am not. I am, in fact, your equal in social position ; 
so that, if you can spare a place for me in your heart, 
without knowing w^ho I am, you will not have to expel 
me when you condescend to hear what I have to say." 

" Do you know," said Mary, with a merry twinkle in 
her eyes, "I believe you are just dying to tell me all 
about yourself?" 

"And you wild to have me do so." 

The sun sparkled upon the Eiver, the waves mur- 
mured softly at their feet, beneath a gentle breeze 
laden with the mysterious breath of awakening spring ; 
and these two sat there bantering one another, like 
children, gleefully. Mary no longer recognized the man 
v^ho sat before her. Every line had passed from his face ; 
and but for his Olympic beard, he might have seemed a 
great jolly boy just come home for his holidays. She 
could not take her eyes off his face. She was scru- 
tinizing it, w^ondering where could be lurking those 
ambuscades of passion that she thought she had de- 
tected more than once. And the fire-darting flashes, 
where were they hidden, beneath those ingenuous 
glances, so tender, so soft, so caressing ? 



CHAPTER LIY. 



To four people at Elmington that was a happy week. 
I suspect it w^as rather a dull one to every one else. 

The friendship of Alice and Mavy had renewed its 
youth. Each had told the other everything. That is, 
they did w^hat they could; for there was always no 
end left to tell. Not a word was wasted, not a moment 
spent on any subject but one. Never had two young 
men been more talked about. 



356 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" We are both so well suited," said Alice. " To a 
matter-of-fact body like me, Mr. Frobisber — " 

" Oh, Alice, he is just too charming, with his quaint, 
humorous ways ; and then so devoted !" 

" Do you think so ?" 

"Why, the poor man is just dying with love, and — " 

" But just think of your affair, Mary ! When are you 
going to let him tell you who he is? Oh, I'll tell you. 
Suppose we let them both come up to Richmond at the 
same time to interview our respective and respected 
papas. Oh, won't it be dreadful!" And with that they 
fell on each other's necks and giggled. 

'' Mr. Frobisher says he will be hanged if he speaks 
to my father. He saj-s he thinks it a liberty to ask 
any man for his daughter; so he intends to speak to 
mother. Bashful? O-o-o-oh !" 

Charley and the Don, too, had their confabulations, 
but how was any one to find out what they said ? But 
a merrier, jollier soul than the latter it would have 
been hard to find. (I believe my grandfather would 
have been somewhat scandalized at the way he pro- 
faned the Guarnerius with his jigs, had not Charley 
made casual mention of the gigas of Corelli and the 
old Italian school; which seemed to lend a certain air 
of classicity to their homely Virginia descendants.) 

These four, then, were happy. But upon the horizon 
of Mary's dreams there hung a speck of cloud. It was 
no bigger than a man's hand, but its jagged edges, 
splotching the rosy east, marred the perfection of the 
dawn. 

To say what that cloud was, brings up a subject 
upon which I touch with extreme reluctance. 

A Bushwhacker discussing the problems of religion, 
— what will be said of him? Love — feeling my in- 
ability to depict that, I accepted the kind offices of 
our friend Alice. But where, among the bishops and 
other clergy — regular officers, — am I to find one will- 
ing to be associated with a guerilla like myself? Who 
among them would write a few chapters for this book ? 

But the chapters must be written. 

The reader will recall, I beg, one of the earlier inci- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 357 

dents recorded in this narrative ; where the writer calls 
upon the Don at his rooms in Richmond, to invite him 
to spend Christmas at Elmington. It will be remem- 
bered that I found him reading a small book, which he 
laid down upon my entrance, and that chancing to 
glance at the little volume as I passed out of the 
room, I saw with surprise that it was a copy of the 
New Testament. With surprise. I would not bo 
understood (not for the world) as casting a slur upon 
the youth of Virginia. They read their Bibles, of 
course; but generally, I believe, at the beginning and 
end of the day. At any rate, whether it was the hour 
of the evening or the man himself, I was astonished. 

When I told the girls what I had seen, they were 
variously affected, according to their several natures. 
Here, thought Lucy, is one more good young man, — 
good not being, with her, a term of contempt. Mary's 
imagination was fired. Behold, thought she, a high, 
brave young spirit that hath chosen the better part. 
Alice, being what neither of the others was, in the 
main an average Virginia girl, — Alice could not help it, 
— the little scamp laughed. I don't know that it oc- 
curred to her that these very good young men are, take 
them " by and large,'' no better than the bad young 
men (and not half so interesting) ; all I know is that 
she laughed, and made the others laugh, too, though 
against their will. 

And not once only. For weeks afterwards she never 
spoke of the Don save as Parson (or, rather, Pass'n) 
Smith. Her merry fancy played countless variations 
upon this single string; but it snapped one day, — 
snapped very suddenly, the first Sunday after her and 
Mary's arrival at Elmington. 

" I wonder," said Alice, as she and the other girls 
were getting ready for church, — " I wonder whether the 
Pass'n will go with us ? Has any one heard him in- 
quiring about a meeting-house? What a favorite he 
would be among the sistern of the county !" 

As they went down-stairs, they could see him leaning 
against a pillar on the porch. 

" Look, Mary ; your Pass'n has his Sunday face on. 



358 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

How dreadfully serioua he looks! Mind, girls, no fri- 
volity ! I'll be bound he says 'Sabbath.'" 

" No gentleman ever speaks of Sunday as ' the Sab- 
bath,' " said Mary, reproachfully. 

" Yery true ; and he is a gentleman if he is a pass'n. 
Hang this glove! Mr. Whacker," she continued, " here 
we are ; and all ready, for a wonder, in time." 

Wheels were crunching along up to the steps; horses, 
held by boys, were pawing the earth ; and on the piazza 
there was the rustle of dresses and the subdued hum 
of preparation. The Don alone seemed to have no 
part in the proceedings. Alice drew two girls' heads 
together. 

" The exhorter looks solemn I The drive will be 
hilarious in the carriage that takes him! Listen !" 

^^ Bj the way," Mr. Whacker was saying, "I had 
forgotten to ask you, — will you take a seat in the car- 
riage, or would 3' ou prefer going on horseback ?" 

"Horseback, by all means," whispered Alice; "the 
jolting might cheer up his Eiverence." 

The Don, looking down, changed color, and was 
visibly embarrassed. " I remember," said he, presently, 
raising his eyes to those of Mr. Whacker, " that one of 
the first things you said to me, when you welcomed 
me to Elmington, was that it was 'Liberty Hall.' " 

"Certainly, oh, certainly," rejoined my grandfather, 
in his cordial way. " Choose for yourself That pair 
of thoroughbreds may look a trifle light; but you will 
find they will take you spinning. Then there is the 
buggy. But perhaps you would prefer to ride? I can 
recommend that sorrel that Zip is holding." (Zip gave 
a furtive pressure on the curb which made the sorrel 
arch his neck and paw the ground.) 

" I have not made myself clear," said the Don, with 
a constrained smile. " I meant to beg you to — to let 
me take care of 'Liberty Hall' to-day." 

"You mean," said my grandfather, taking in the idea 
with some difficulty, " that you do not wish to go to 
church to-day ?" 

The Don bowed. 

" Oh, certainly," said Mr. Whacker, with some eager- 



THE STORV OF DON MIFF. 359 

ness; for he felt that he had inadvertently pressed his 
guest beyond the limits of good breeding. "Certainly, 
of course, I had not thought of it. Of course you have 
not yet quite recovered your strength." 

The Don bowed his head deferentially, as though 
willing to let this explanation of his host pass un- 
challenged ; but a certain something that lurked be- 
neath his rather mechanical smile showed that that 
explanation was Mr. Whacker's, not his. A sudden 
constraint came over the company, and they were glad 
to get off. 

When the party returned, the Don was absent, walk- 
ing; and when, at dinner, there was the usual rambling 
discussion of the sermon, the singing, and so forth, he 
took no part in the conversation. The next Sunday, 
when the vehicles and horses came up to the door, the 
Don was found to be missing; having absented himself 
purposely, as seemed likely ; and so on the next Sunday 
— and on the next — to the end. 

It was remarked, too, that never once did he take 
part in those innocent little theological discussions 
which are apt to spring up in Virginia homes, around 
the family hearth, after tea, Sunday evenings. As he 
w^as not a talker, as a rule, his silence would not have 
been obtrusive, save for his persistency in maintaining 
it. As it was, in the end his very silence seemed a 
sort of crying aloud. Alice had called him "Pass'n" 
for the last time. 

All this gave Mary, for reasons of her own, great 
concern, — far greater concern than an average girl 
would have felt. What those reasons were I shall ex- 
plain at the proper time. Suffice it to say at present, 
that just in proportion as her interest in this singular 
man deepened did her anxiety as to his religious views 
grow keener. The time had come, at last, when she 
felt that she had the right to question him ; but the 
very thought (though ever in her mind) of asking him 
why he never went to church made her shiver. 
Strange! Now that he was her avowed lover, her 
awe of him was greater than ever before. He was 
now frank, joyous, playful — 



360 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

But even when a caged lion is romping with his 
mate, you shall ofttimes see the glitter of his mighty- 
teeth ! 



CHAPTEE LY. 



My grandfather was looking serious. Mr. Carter 
had come down from Eichmond, and, next day, the 
great American Undulator and Boneless Vertebrate 
was to leave Elmington, taking with her Alice and 
Mary; and these notable Christmas holidays would 
come to an end. 

It was late in the afternoon of one of those delicious 
days in February, which every year (in the Land of 
the Free and the Home of the Brave) delude us with 
the hope of an early spring (though we all know that we 
never have any spring, late or early); deceiving even 
yonder pair of bluebirds, who, warmed into forgetful- 
ness of that March which lies between them and the 
abundant and nutritious worm of summer, go gallivan- 
ting up and down the orchard, chirruping eternal fidel- 
ity ; peering into this old tree and into that, in quest 
of some hollow knot, so suggestive (to the bluebirdish 
mind) of matrimony. 

Where Charley and Alice were on this bright after- 
noon does not much matter. No doubt they were 
together and happy; or, if wretched, wretched with 
that sweet wretchedness which makes the tearful part- 
ings of young lovers so truly delicious. 

There's your Araminta. Nineteen years of her life 
had she passed, ignorant of your existence. T'other 
day you met ; and now, she who gave you not so much 
as a sigh during all those nineteen years, cannot hear 
you speak of a month's absence but she distils upon 
your collar the briny tear! She has found out during 
the last few days, your Araminta, that she cannot 
breathe where you are not. 

Absurd Araminta — but nice ? 

Wherever else they may have been, they were not in 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 361 

the Argo. The Don and Mary were there; and in the 
then infancy of naval architecture row-boats were not 
built large enough to hold, comfortably, two pairs of 
lovers. 

Mary was seated in the boat, he lounging around it ; 
now leaning against the gunwale, now stalking idly to 
and fro in the shining sand, rejoicing in his youth. They 
talked of the passing sea-gulls, the twittering bluebirds, 
the rippling waves, the rosy clouds, the generous sun- 
light, — of everything, of nothing, it mattered not ; for 
love hath power to transfigure the plainest things. 

Presently the Don said, standing with fingers inter- 
laced behind his back, and looking far away down the 
Eiver, " Do you know, it would be hard for me to live 
at a spot remote from salt water? All the great 
thoughts that have moved the world have arisen 
within sound of the sea-waves. She is the mother of 
civilization. It is the land which separates the peo- 
ples of the earth, not the water. It thrills me to think 
that, as I stand here, this river which splashes against 
my foot is part of that ocean which washes the shores 
of England, of France, of Italy, of Greece, of Pales- 
tine." 

Palestine ! Strange word on the lips of a man who 
never went to church. 

" Then, again," continued he, with a smile, " I love the 
sea because it reminds me — I don't mind telling you, 
since I have let you into my little secret — because it 
reminds me of Homer, and the epithets he has applied 
to it." 

"Ah, that reminds me of something! Have you 
forgotten your promise to talk to me about Homer ? 
Have you that little copy of the Iliad in your pocket 
now ?" 

" Of course," said he, tapping his vest. 

" Will you not let me have it in my hand now V 

He shook his head, smiling. " No ; but have you not 
the right to command me now ? Speak, and I obey !" * 

" Ah ! Then I command you, on your allegiance, to 
deliver that book into my hands." 

He hesitated for a moment, and his hand shook a 
Q 31 



362 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

little when he placed the book in hers. She took the 
left lid between finger and thumb ; but his look of ill- 
suppressed agitation made her hesitate, and her hand 
began to tremble now, she knew not why. 

" May I look ?" she asked, in a rather shaky voice. 

" If you will ! But I warn you that that fly-leaf will 
tell you what you have forbidden me to reveal." 

" Oh !" cried she, with a start. And the book fell 
upon the shining sand. 

He stooped and picked it up. " Have you had enough 
of it ?" 

"More than enough, — for the present, at least," she 
replied, smiling faintly. "However," she added, "I 
should like to look at the outside of it. How very old 
it looks," said she, as she took it in her hand. " Why, 
the corners are worn perfectly round ; you must know 
it all by heart." 

"Almost," said he. 

"And the back — what !" exclaimed she, with aston- 
ishment. " Why, this is not the Iliad ! It is a copy 
of the New Testament!" And she held up the faded 
title before his eyes. 

With a black look of annoyance, but without a word, 
the Don seized the book, thrust it into his pocket, and 
began striding to and fro. Presently he stopped in 
front of her. 

" I put my hand into the wrong pocket," said he, 
with obvious vexation. 

" Why, yes. But what's the harm ?" said she, in a 
soothing voice. " Carrying a Testament in one's pocket 
is nothing to be ashamed of, I hope ?" 

" Certainly not ! But," he added, with a half smile, 
" taking it out is different." 

"And so," she began, feeling her way, "you carry 
the Iliad in one pocket and the Testament in the other." 
But it was not now of the Iliad that she wished to 
hear him talk. 

" Yes ; a rather ill-assorted couple, you would say ?" 

" Very ! One might suppose you either a — Greek 
professor in disguise — or — a — minister." 

He threw his head back and laughed. " I never 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 363 

thought of that ; so one might. "We generally look 
too deep for motives. Truth is not often found in the 
bottom of a well. I carry these two books simply 
because — " 

She looked up. 

" Because," he added, gravely, " they were given to 
me by — people that I — cared for." 

Constituted as she was, these few words affected 
Mar}^ strongly. He had said so little, yet so much ; 
revealing, in the unconscious simplicity of his nature, 
the very intensity of feeling that he strove to hide. 
And as she looked upon the two little volumes that he 
had carried all these years, saw how they had been 
worn away against his heart, a feeling of awe came 
over her. She found herself comparing, in her imagi- 
native way, the man before her with one of the great, 
silent powers of nature, — the dark-floating tide, for in- 
stance, so noiseless when unresisted ; or a black cloud 
charged with thunder, that seems, at first, but to mut- 
ter in its sleep, like a Cyclops in a battle-dream, but 
when yonder mountain dares to rear his crest in its 
path — 

" You value them very highly on account of the 
givers," put in Mary, as an entering wedge. 

" Naturally ; but not exclusively on that account." 
And he drew the two little volumes from his pockets, 
and, placing them side by side, surveyed them lov- 
ingly. 

Here was Mary's opportunity. Painfully anxious as 
she had been as to her lover's religious convictions, she 
had shrunk, hitherto, from a direct question. But it 
would be easy now, she saw, to lead him on to a full 
confession of his faith without seeming to interrogate 
him. 

She began by drawing him out on Homer ; but what 
he said she hardly heard, so tremulously eager was she 
to know what he thought of that other little book 
which he held in his hand. One thing struck her at 
the time, and she had cause to remember it afterwards : 
the strong admiration he evinced for the character of 
Achilles, the flinty-hearted captain of the Myrmidons. 



364 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Presently she said, in a low voice, " You hold them 
side by side ; but could two books be more different ?" 

He laid the Iliad upon the seat beside him, and taking 
the other little volume in his hand, held it up before 
him. As he did so, there was something in his look 
that thrilled her with expectancy. While he had been 
indicating the clear-cut outlines of Homer's marvellous 
creation, she had felt (though hardly hearing with more 
than her outward ear) that he spoke admirably, and 
remarked the high intellectuality that illumined his 
features ; but now a sudden glow suffused his counte- 
nance, and strange, soft lights danced in his eyes. She 
hung upon his opening lips with deep suspense; for 
something told her that upon the words he was about 
to utter her own happiness depended. 

The hour that followed was passed in a way which 
is probablj' rare with parting lovers. 

" No, I have never read Chateaubriand's Genie du 
Christianisme, and," added he, with an admiring glance, 
" I am glad of it ; for otherwise I should not have 
heard your brilliant version of what he says. I am 
afraid, however, that, well as he puts it, I am hardly 
frank enough to admit that parts of the Old Testament 
are superior, as mere literature, to everything that the 
Greeks have left us. The truth is, however, that I 
know so little of the Old Testament that I have no 
right to an opinion ; but this little book," continued 
he, holding it up, " I know b}^ heart. I mean the gos- 
pels," he added, quickly ; " and I don't hesitate to say 
that in all literature you shall not find such a gem." 

The gospels a gem of literature! A weight seemed 
to press on Mary's heart. 

"Listen!" And he opened the book, and turning a 
few pages with nervous eagerness, found a passage. 
"Listen! Could anything be more beautiful?" 

His lips parted ; but, without reading a word, he 
closed the volume upon his forefinger. " Pardon me ; 
but do you know, I fear you can hardly have more than 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 365 

a suspicion of how divinely beautiful this little book 
really is?" 

She looked up, puzzled. 

"You have heard it read, week after week, it is true, 
but read with a saintly snivel, — a holy whine." 

Mary would have protested, but a certain dark flash 
of bitter disdain that accompanied these words checked 
her; and she was silent. 

" Let me read you," said he, after a pause, " a few 
of my favorite passages, in the voice of a mere man." 

He read and commented, commented and read, for 
perhaps an hour; commented without rhetoric, read 
without art. He merely gave himself up to that won- 
drous story. 

And what an hour for Mary! For weeks she had 
longed to know what he thought upon the one great 
subject which overshadowed all others in her mind. 
Yes, overshadowed, — for hers was not a blithe spirit. 
Had longed to know, yet feared to ask. And now that 
he had been reading and talking so long, did he — as 
she had so often and so fervently prayed that he 
should — did he think as she did ? Alas, it was but too 
clear that he did not! But what did he think ? That 
she could not tell, so strange and bewildering were the 
flashes that came from his words. Her Virginia the- 
ology gave her no clue. As though a mariner bore 
down upon a coast not to be found upon his chart : the 
lights are there, but have no meaning for him. 

Equally bewildered was Mary. How did he regard 
the central figure of that wondrous drama? As he 
read and talked and talked and read, a will-o'-the-wisp 
danced before her eyes, leading her here, there, every- 
where, but not to be seized! 

How tender his voice now! borrowing pathos not 
from art, but from the narrative itself A voice full of 
tears. And do not his eyes answer the fading sunlight 
with a dewy shimmer? 

He was right, she thought, when he said she knew 
not the beauties of this little book. Not a month ago, 
and she had dozed under this very passage. 

And now there rose before her — he read on but she 
31* 



366 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

heard him not (so the trooping fancies evoked by music 
have power to dull the mere outward ear)— rose before 
her soul a vision of ineffable softness, — a vision of one 
with a face full of sorrow, but a sun-lit head ; and he 
beckoned to little children, and they followed him ; and 
as he passed, the burdens of the heavy-laden grew 
lighter, and the weary smiled again and forgot their 
w^eariness, and rose and followed, they too. And as 
he passed (he read on but she heeded not) — as he 
passed along his stony path, violets seemed to spring 
from beneath his feet, — violets shedding perfume. And 
along the roadside lilies nodded. And sinners beat 
their breasts, but lifted up their hearts. And one of 
her own sex followed, — one who had loved much ; and 
as she followed she dried her tears with her sunny 
hair — 

" GENEEATION OF VIPERS !" 

She started from her seat and clutched the gunwale 
of the boat. As he towered above her, his nostrils 
breathed defiance, his white teeth glittered with scorn, 
his dark eyes gleamed, his whole figure was eloquent 
with indignation. 'Twas but a bunch of dry sea-weed 
that he held aloft, crushed in his right hand ; but to 
her he seemed to brandish the serpent-thongs of Tisiph- 
one ; and the milksop ideal of Eaphael and the rest 
vanished from her mind. In its stead there rose before 
her exalted imagination the heroic figure of a valiant 
young Jew. He stands before a mob that thirsts for 
his blood. Alone, but intrepid. He knows full well, 
O Jerusalem, that thou dost stone thy prophets (for 
what land doth not?), but though his face be pale 
beneath the shadow of approaching death, his brave 
spirit is undaunted. He is willing that the cup shall 
pass from him ; but, being such as be is, he may turn 
neither to the right nor to the left. If he must drain 
it, then be it so. His mission is to live for man — and, 
if need be, to die for him. 

But is this the vision of a manlike God ? Is it not 
rather that of a godlike man ? 

The Argo stands firm in its bed of shining sand ; but 
tempest-tossed is the soul of the young girl who sits 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 367 

therein, straining her eager eyes for a sight of land.. 
Every now and then a glorious mirage seems to spring 
into the air, gladdening, for a moment, the darkening 
horizon, and then to fall as suddenly, dispersed by a 
word. 

" Yes, Eousseau was right ; Socrates did die like a 
philosopher, but Jesus like a God !" 

Mary leaned forward and held her breath. 

He clasped his hands, and uplifting his face that was 
pale with emotion: "My God," cried he, in a voice 
that made her shiver— " my God, my God, why hast 
thou forsaken me?" 

The mirage vanished, — for a mere tone may outline 
a whole system of theology. That cry, as he gave it, 
was one of bitter human anguish. Ig her lover's eyes 
'twas not a God that died, but a man,— godlike, but a 
man. 

"With that cry" (he added), "the bitterest that ever 
broke from mortal lips — " 

She heard but heeded not; she knew more than 
enough already. 

" AYith that cry there burst the grandest heart that 
ever beat for mankind. Who can wonder that sixty 
generations of men have worshipped him as a God !" 

Mary rose, and, descending from the Argo, took his 
arm. She needed its support. 

Just before reaching the piazza, she stopped suddenly, 
and, wheeling in front of him, fixed her gaze upon his 
face. A gaze long, wistful, pitiful-tender. As though 
a mother learned by heart the features of her boy just 
going forth to battle, not knowing what may happen. 

She tried to answer the smile that greeted this burst 
of feminine impulse; but the soulful eyes were swim- 
ming with tears. 

The Pythia was a woman— and Cassandra— 



368 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTER LYI. 

I PICTURE thee to my fancy, my Ah Yung Whack, 
popping thine almond eyes out of all almond shape. 
No? Then thou hast not read my last chapter. 
Couldst not? Ah, but thou must. I felt that it would 
be so much Choctaw to thee. Still, thou must read it ; 
for in that chapter I strike the key-note of this, my 
Symphonic Monograph. 

I know it is Choctaw to thee ; nay, Comanche ; but 
I rejoice, rather, in that ; for it gives me a pretext for 
writing an enth'e chapter for thine enlightenment. 
Nor exclusively for thine ; for I would make matters 
clear for the contemporary reader, who will, I trust 
(or else alas for my poor publishers !), — who will, I trust, 
outnumber thee. 

This, then, is my case. I have thrown upon my 
canvas a young person who has had the misfortune to 
fall in love with a man of whom she may be fairly said 
to know nothing. (Her feminine intuitions cannot, of 
course, pass muster as knowledge with us Bushwhack- 
ers and philosophers.) And this young person, so far 
as is made to appear, is anxious to know but one 
thing in regard to her lover. Had she been a good 
sensible girl, with no nonsense about her, it might 
have been supposed that she would have been curious 
to know whether he were rich. Then, being but just 
turned of eighteen, who could have blamed her if she 
had wondered whether he were of a jealous temper, 
and likely to put an end to her dancing with other 
men ? Again ; many women have a pardonable ambi- 
tion to shine in the eyes of their friends ; and was he, 
if rich, generous as well ? And was she likely to dazzle 
Alice with her diamonds, perhaps, or beam upon Lucy 
from a handsome equipage? He had shown, too, some 
fondness for field sports, and would he — ah, would he 
(harrowing thought to every truly feminine bosom) — 
would he bring her into the country, there to drag out 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 369 

a weary, dreary life, and shoppinglessly vegetate? 
Nay, was this splendid creature (as is too often the 
case with splendid creatures), was he, perhaps, a slave 
to creature comforts? Would he be an exacting critic 
of her housekeeping? Might not muddy coffee exacer- 
bate even an heroic soul ? Could it be that a roast not 
done to a turn might corrugate that admirable brow ? 

No; we have not painted her as anxious in respect 
to fxny of these things. Yet I beg the reader will not 
accuse me of drawing a monstrosity of a girl, one desti- 
tute of the common instincts of her sex. Far from it. 
She, very likely, trusting implicitly to her intuitions (as 
women will), felt too confident as to these possibilities 
of her future to give them a second thought. Besides, 
was she not desperately in love? And we all know 
(or, at least, I believe, which amounts to the same 
thing, so far as this book is concerned) that there are 
women who, if but deeply enamoured, would scorn 
such thoughts, as a degradation to true love. At any 
rate, the fact was as I have stated it. Mary, while 
seemingly careless (though that may have been due to 
confidence) as to the mere details of her destiny in this 
world, was morbidly solicitous touching her lover's 
views as to the next. 

Laugh not, gentle reader. True, I am a humoristic 
Bushwhacker by trade ; but I would not have you 
smile out of order. And as for thee, my great- to-the- 
tenth-power-grandson, brush the wrinkles from thy 
yellow brow, lest thou crack, not this nut, but thine 
addled pate, instead. 

Know, then, all men (and by all men I mean, of 
course, all women and clergymen, who, alone, in these 
busy days,have leisure to read symphonic monographs) — 

Know, all women and clergymen, of this and more 
or less future generations, that the story I am telling 
has very narrow limitations, as well in time as in 
space. It is of Virginia* alone that I am writing. Of 
Virginia not in the fourth quarter, but Virginia in the 
beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century. 

* Conspicuously inexact ; but the reader must judge for herself. — Ed» 



370 THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 

Strolling through this narrow field, at this particular 
harvest-time, I have selected three sheaves wherewith 
to fashion such rural picture as my hand should have 
cunning to form. 

Lucy, I chose, originally, as symbolizing the purity 
and simplicity of the womanhood of our old Virginia 
life. But of her I am conscious that I have given the 
merest outline; and I find that I cannot fill in the 
picture adequately, and at the same time maintain the 
rigidly monographic type of my work. Let her stand, 
therefore, just outside of our central group (where the 
full light falls), illumining the half-shadow with her 
gentle, St. Cecilia look. Is that a smile that lights her 
eye, or is it the glancing of a tear? 

Our Alice illustrates for us, as I have said elsewhere, 
the careless freedom of those old days, and shows how 
our democratic-aristocratic Virginia girls could be gay 
without being indiscreet, joyous yet not loud, uncon- 
ventional yet full of real dignity ; how, in the hundreds 
of years that separate them from the mother-country, 
they have shaken off English stiffness, while clinging 
fast to English love of liberty. But she is fully capable 
of speaking for herself; and we pass on to Mary Rolfe. 

The reader has already, I hope, a tolerably clear con- 
ception of this young person. Stature below the aver- 
age, eyes full of soul, a manner painfully shy with 
strangers, childlike and confiding with intimates; a 
mindadmirably stored, considering her years, with all 
that can adorn ; often silent, and preferring to hear 
rather than to be heard, but murmuring, when, forget- 
ting her reserve, she does speak, like a brook, and in a 
voice of such surpassing sweetness that one could have 
wished that, like the brook, she would go on forever. 
Eloquent rather than witty. And I fear few would 
have called her wise. For the rest, full of high imagin- 
ings, and a born hero-worshipper. 

Such was Mary Rolfe in herself; and to know her as 
such has sufficed for the reader, so far. But a crisis is 
approaching in Mary's life ; and to foretell how people 
are going to act in crises, it is not enough to know 
what they are in themselves, merely. What they are 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 371 

is something ; the where and the when are more. Do 
you see^that pleasant, genial-looking man walking along 
the streets of a Southern city? Could anything be 
gentler than his look, kinder than his ej^e? Yet it 
was but the other day that he went out, deliberately, 
to a secluded spot called the Field of Honor, and sent 
a ball through the person of an excellent gentleman, 
who at the same time was addressing a bullet to his 
care. These worthy persons were no worse than other 
people (true, they were editors), but they lived in the 
South. That was the trouble. In the North the same 
man would have simply said, you're another, and called 
the account square. And I, for one, applaud the North, 
and say she is right and the South wrong. 

No ; if you would forecast the actions of men, you 
must be acquainted with their environment, as Herbert 
Spencer would call it. To use an illustration that this 
leader of modern scientific thought would not object 
to; you strike that white ball with your cue. The 
table being smooth, it would seem that it would main- 
tain its initial direction till the initial force was ex- 
hausted, or at least till it struck the opposite cushion ; 
but, lo ! it strikes a light red ball that lies in its path, 
and off it flies at a tangent. If Mr. Spencer held the 
cue and were conducting the experiment in person, our 
illustration would now be at an end (for I am told that 
he is the worst billiard-player in all England); but let 
us suppose that that cue-thrust was delivered by one 
of those solid-headed young men (in shirt-sleeves) who 
delight in what they humorously call the scientific game. 
The white strikes the light red and darts away ; but 
click ! and off it speeds along a different track. It has 
carromed on the dark red. 

And are we not, we mortals, so many billiard-balls, 
launched forth upon our little arena by we know not 
what force, and rolling we know not whither? It may 
be a little wider or a trifle narrower, perhaps, the stage 
on which we play our several parts ; but all the same, 
around it rise the unscalable barriers of human life, the 
adamantine limitations of human endeavor. And we, 
embracmg within our little selves (as did the tusk 



372 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

wheDce that ball was cut) countless conflicting forces, the 
inextricably intermingled traits, that is, of numberless 
ancestors, — fashioned, too, by the loving hands of father, 
mother, brother, sister, teacher; we spin forth on the 
journey of life. And a seemly roll of it we may have, 
and a safe, perhaps, if we be but smooth and round 
and mediocre (not bulging on this side, say, with 
big thoughts, or jagged on that with untamable con- 
science). There stands the goal, and making for it, 
merrily we spin forth, — but, click! click ! and where are 
we ? Nay, may not a pinch of cigar-ashes wrest victory 
from an expert? And hath not, sometime, a mere 
rumpled thread sufficed to bring triumph to a tyro? 
Surely it is not a great matter to stoop and pick up a 
pin ; but was it not enough, once, as we are told, to 
make a beggar a millionaire? And who shall say that the 
merest casual fly, alighting on the intent nose of some 
gunner in beleaguered Toulon, might not have so 
warped the parabola of a shell as to have rendered 
needless the slaughter of Waterloo ? 

I have made life a parallelogram, I see, though it is 
notoriously a circle ; and I have symbolized failure in 
life by carroming on the light and dark reds ; whereas, 
as we all know, that is success in billiards. But, my 
Ah Yung Whack, is it not night in China when it is 
day with us ? And does not white raiment signify grief 
there? And do they not take off" their shoes instead 
of their hats when calling on a friend, and shake their 
own hands rather than the other fellow's ? We will let 
the illustration stand, my boy, for your sake ; for, in 
the new Flowery Kingdom which is coming, all things 
will be changed. In that day, when the wielder of the 
cue shall also wear one (spell it how he will), the game 
will be to miss rather than to hit ; so that what seemed, 
at the first blush, to be due to the buck-jumping of a 
mustang Pegasus, turns out to be, in reality, the pro- 
phetic vision of a philosophic Bushwhacker. 

But the environment of Mary ? 

And now, at last, it has come, — that chapter which I 
have so long dreaded, — my chapter on Virginia theology. 

" Dearest Alice, could you not manage it for me ?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 373 

A backward toss in her rocking-chair, one ejacula- 
tory clapping together of her plump hands, one shout 
of laughing amazement was her answer. 

" I ?" said Charley. "You must have forgotten that 
I am hard at work on thut Essay on Military Glory 
which you say you will shortly neod." 



CHAPTER LYII. 



Here I am, then, since it must be. 

Every one has heard the story of the Frenchman 
who, after a tour through America (or was it Eng- 
land ?), had but this to say of us : that we were a 
people with thirty religions and but a single sauce. T 
hardly think that we in Virginia, at least at the period 
of this story, were quite so rich in religions as this. 
Yery likely, some of the sects discovered by our observ- 
ant G-aul had no representatives in the Old Dominion. 
At any rate, I, after diligent inquiry in many quarters, 
have not been able to unearth more than fifteen dis- 
tinct varieties. I did not count, I admit, a certain flock 
of migratory Mormons that I once encountered on the 
wing; just as, I presume, a naturalist would hardly 
class the Canada goose among Virginia birds, from the 
mere fact that they refresh themselves, in the spring 
of the year, in our wheat-fields. Nor did I think that 
a man and his wife and a boy whom I once knew, 
could fairly claim to be numbered as a sect merely 
because, as their fellow-villagers asserted, they pro- 
fessed to believe something that nobody could under- 
stand. Then I am afraid that even the very sects 
themselves would insist on my leaving out the Bush- 
whackers, — slack-twisted Christians like myself, that is, 
who can't abide uniforms, and find it hot marching in 
ranks, and irksome to keep step ; though we do cover 
the flanks of the main column, and, while we don't 
attack in line, yet keep up a rattling fire upon such 
stray sinners as we find prowling about. 

32 



374 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

And so forth, and so forth. 

Still (for I would not incur the suspicion of niggard- 
liness), it is very possible that, had I searched with 
greater diligence, I should have found more than fifteen. 
We will allow, then, that, at the period which we are 
sketching, there were, say, a dozen and a half religions 
in Virginia. 

And when I say religions, I have not in my mind a 
milk-and-water, namby-pamby, good -enough -for -me 
kind creed, but one of your up-and-down, robustious, 
straight-from-the-shoulder dogmas, that could ship off 
entire churchfuls of heterodoxers to — (but since the 
Eevised Edition the word is scarcely parliamentary) 
without a wry face. Thither our Virginia Catholics 
used to despatch all our Protestants, to a man ; but, 
inasmuch as their numbers were few (and, strictly 
speaking, the thing was, perhaps, contrary to the Con- 
stitution of the United States), they did it all very 
decently and quietly ; sending them off by night-train, 
as it were, and making no loud mention of the fact. 

Not so their opponents. Greatly outnumbering the 
followers of the scarlet woman of Babylon, they rat- 
tled them off in broad daylight, by the through mail, 
making no bones of naming the terminus of the road. 
Ah, but it was thorough work on both sides ! 

Ole Yirginny nebber tire ! 

But there was one awkward thing about the business : 
if they kept this thing up, not a solitary Yirginian 
would ever reach heaven. That thought gave me 
pause, one day; and ever since I have hoped that some- 
body had made a mistake, somehow. At any rate, said 
I to myself, in my slack-twisted, Bushwhackerish way, 
the Jews will get away ; and that will be a comfort, 
considering what an IJnrevised Edition of a time they 
have had for these two thousand years. 

But as a guerilla, as a free lance, unattached and un- 
uniformed, and falling in, as occasion served, now with 
one regiment and now with another, I found that things 
were even worse than I have represented them. You 
see they didn't mind me, and so talked very freely in 
my presence; and I was shocked to find that these 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 375 

various companies and battalions privately nourished a 
keener animosity one against the other than towards 
the common enemy, AhSin. If each could have heard 
what the others said of them (as I did), and where they 
sent them I I came to the conclusion, at last, that there 
was not the shadow of a chance for any Virginia 
Protestant. There were not enough Catholics to keep 
them busy; they fell upon one another, and so many 
cars did they couple on to the through mail (ole Yir- 
ginny nebber tire!) that it became a most Unlimited 
Express, choke-full of Virginia gentlemen, — Virginia 
gentlemen who had erred in the interpretation of a 
phrase or so, or, it may be, of a word merely, of Holy 
Writ. 

Ole Virginny nebber tire ! 

I say Virginia gentlemen advisedly. 

Environments may have their environments (just as 
fleas have other fleas to bite 'em, and so we go ad in- 
fi7utu7n), and, thorough-going as was our theology, it 
had to succumb in the presenceof our chivalry towards 
the sex ; for throughout all our borders there lived not 
a man, lay or clerical, who would not have scorned to 
send a woman to the bottomless pit. 

But as for the Virginia gentlemen, we shovelled them 
all in with an industry (ole Virginny nebber tire !) and 
an undoubting zeal that were above all praise. 

That's the reason I always did love a Virginian ; he 
won't stand any nonsense. "Do you believe that a 
prodigious majority of mankind were elected unto 
damnation, ages before they were born ? No ?" Swish ! 
and that is the end of you ! Another: " And so you say 
that baptizo means baptize, do you?" — "Why, don't the 
dictionaries and all the Greek profess — " budjum! and 
where are you now ? 

For, in matters of this kind, we Virginians of that 
day, if you would agree with us, would agree with you ; 
but — if not — you might go — your way, — for the King 
James version obtained in those times. 

Ah, but we were out-and-outers in those good old 
days ! 

Ole Virginny nebber tire 1 



376 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Strange ! for time was when things were very differ- 
ent in the Old Dominion. Our ancestors had brought 
over with them the spirit of the merrie old England of 
hundreds of years ago; and merry men were they, too, 
for a long time after they landed on these fair shores. 

And, after all, what was the harm? for do not 
philosophers tell us that a people's conception of the 
Deity is but the reflex of the powers of nature (be they 
kindly or hostile) by which they are surrounded ? And 
was not this a fair land ? and if their sun was bright, 
but not too fierce^ and their wheat-fields nodded to soft 
breezes, but knew not the hurricane, and if their snows 
were a fairy mantle for mother-earth, rather than a 
shroud, and Jack Frost spread, over pond and creek, ice 
just thick enough to store against what time the mint 
— the jolly jolly mint — should sprout, — if all nature 
smiled, why should these merry Norman-English pull 
long faces? Nor did they, but laughed and danced, 
bless their jovial souls ! 

But a time came when merrie England was merry 
no longer. 

Somebody had invented a new religion. 

It floated down upon her, a dense fog, impenetrable 
to the mild radiance of the star of Bethlehem. Floated 
across the Atlantic, and darkened our life, too. With 
us, as well, laughter became frivolity, and dancing 
blasphemous. There are rifts in the fog now, and 
here and there the sun is bursting through ; but at the 
period of our story the shadow was unbroken. There 
was laughter, it is true. Do not the condemned often 
make merry in their cells? and young people will 
dance, — just as lambs frisk, even upon a bed of mint — 
heedless, — for 'tis their nature to. But they laughed 
and danced under a shadow, — the shadow of the next 
world. That world, alone, was real, — so we thought, 
— while this, from Grreenland's icy mountains to India's 
coral strand, Avas (though it seemed so solid) but a fleet- 
ing show, for man's illusion given. 

And of this theology, which spread, like a black pall, 
over the land, this was the central conception ; and I 
give it for the reason that you will not find it laid down 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 377 

in the books, or in any single discourse. It is the 
epitome of the thousands upon thousands of sermons 
which I (not tiiat I would boast) have heard in my day. 
Listen ; for this was the atmosphere that our Mary 
breathed : 

The world is the battle-ground of two mighty beings, 
the Spirit of Good and the Spirit of Evil. These two, 
from the first appearance of man on earth, have un- 
ceasingly battled together, the one to save him, the 
other to destroy. To save mankind — to destroy man- 
kind — that has been the sole contention these thousands 
of years. Incidentally, of course (for such is war), the 
Evil Spirit has, beyond the harm done the human 
family, wrought immense damage to earth's fauna and 
flora (as the innumerable imperfections of nature 
testify), but man, alone, has been the objective point of 
all his strategy ; and with every new soul that comes 
into the world the conflict is renewed. 

And perhaps I am wrong, — for there are those who 
maintain that I have a bee in my theological bonnet, — 
but, were I a preacher, I should stand up for my side. 
I should not go about proclaiming it from the house- 
tops that in the vast majorit}^ of these struggles the 
good spirit is worsted; nor glory in announcing to the 
world that Satan held the field, and that the only hope 
was that a few of us poor captives might elude his 
vigilance and escape. Captives! They told us that 
we were his when we were born ! 

Is there any harm in saying that to a mere Bush- 
whacker (who has not had the privilege of passing 
through a theological seminary) it seems that we have 
hardly a fair chance? It were better we were born 
orphans! Better that than to be the children of sin 
and Satan, as those who know tell me we are, — though 
I will say that I cannot help hoping that there is some 
mistake about it. 

But if it be, indeed, too true, — if it be a fact that all 
the poor souls that flit darkly, for a season, about this 
little ball of earth, are, in very deed, condemned before 
they are born, may we not hope that it is otherwise in 
Yenus, for example, or Mars? I, at least, sometimes, 

32* 



378 TEE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

overborne by the immense tragedy of human life, steal 
forth alone into the night; and lifting my weary eyes 
to the blue spangled dome above, try to drown the 
darkness here in the light I see shining there; and oft- 
times I find myself wondering whether they be indeed 
as bright as they seem, — find myself praying, even, 
that it may be so. 

For indeed it were pitiful, were all those worlds such 
as ours ! 

And sometimes I have felt, as I swept, with brim- 
ming eyes, constellation after constellation, and galaxy 
after galaxy, that I could bear up with a braver heart 
could I but know that there was, wandering some- 
where in the immensity of space, one little planet, at 
least, upon which the prince of darkness had not set 
his foot, — one little world in which poverty and hunger 
and thirst, and toil and failure, and blood and tears, 
and disease and eternal farewells were unknown, — one 
world where a mother could smile back upon her babe, 
as it lay kicking and crowing in her lap, and laughing 
in her face, and not feel that the Grip of Hell was upon 
its throat. 

Alice buried her face in her hands; but Charley sat 
bolt upright in his seat. 

For such was our creed in those days. If any one 
shall say that Virginians do not believe that now, I 
shall not argue the point. It was notoriously" orthodox 
then to hold that every infant came into the world under 
sentence. Not under sentence to be hanged by the 
neck, as murderers are — 

Alice shivered. Charley lifted his hand. I ceased 
reading. 



SYMPHONY OF LIFE. MOVEMENT III. 

L. VAN Beethoven, "Eroica" Sijmphony. 
Allegro molto. j^ i 




SYMPHONY OF LIFE. 

MOVEMENT III. 



CHAPTEE LYIII. 



It must, in former days, before we Christianized them 
(at any rate, if we didn't do that, quite, we did what 
we could ; we cut their throats for their heathenism 
and lands), — it must have been a comfort to an old In- 
dian brave (before the Pale Faces had taught him what 
was meant by peace on earth) when his stalwart son, 
heir to his prowess, returned to the parental wigwam 
and cast into his veteran lap his fii*8t string of scalps. 
And so, in our day (for conditions change, not man), the 
youthful sparkle comes back to a mother's eye, and 
nascent wrinkles on her fading cheek become twink- 
ling dimples again, when her blooming daughter re- 
turns, flushed with victorj^, from her first campaign. 
How did you leave your uncle and your aunt ? And 
I hope all the children are well ? And so you have had 
a good time? Glorious! Well, you must be tired; 
you need not go up-stairs; come into my room and 
take off your things. 

But she has not had time to unbutton her left glove 
before her mother wants to know all about the scalps : 
how many and whose. 

And here there makes its appearance a seeming dif- 
ference between our young campaigner and the brave 
I have mentioned. He, as he dances around the camp- 
fire, waving in one hand the sinister trophies of his 

379 



380 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

victory, and brandishing his tomahawk in the other, 
proclaims, not without ingenuous yells, what a sin- 
gularly Big Injun he conceives himself to be. She, 
returning from the war-path, has nothing to show; 
denies everything (as she laughingly unties her bonnet- 
strings), even to her mother. To the next-door neigh- 
bor, who runs in to hear, denies ; but smiles mj'steri- 
ousl}^ Idle tales. Nonsense. Not a word of truth 
in it. Pooh ! He was making love to another girl. 
But in the end, young man, your scalp is nailed above 
the door of that young woman's chamber, where all 
may see, — nailed up with laughing protests and mys- 
terious smiles. 

Which is as it should be. There are ways and ways 
of blowing one's little trumpet — or of getting it blown. 
Conditions change, not man. The vanity of Ajax was 
not greater than that of a nineteenth century hero. 
Where, pray, was the son of Telemon to find a bottle 
of champagne to crack with a war-correspondent? 

Alice and Mary managed things economically. Each 
was the war-correspondent of the other. In their let- 
ters to Eichmond, during these notable holidays, Mary 
recounted the victories of the enchantress, while Alice 
numbered the slain of Mary and her soulful eyes. For 
be it understood, fair reader, that while as a monog- 
raphist I have indicated one scalp, merely, apiece, in 
reality a pile of corses lay in front of each of these 
lovel}^ archers. They were Big Injuns, both. But 
this by the way. 

"Which one of them all did you like best?" asked 
Mrs. Eolfe. 

"All!" laughed Mary, letting down her hair as she 
dropped upon a lounge. "How many were there, 
pray?" 

"Alice wrote me that — " 

"Oh, she's been telling tales, has she? And you be- 
lieved all she wrote ?" 

" Oh, yes, I knew his father, when I was a girl, and 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 381 

I don't wonder at the son's being stupid, as you say. 
He could talk of nothing but horses, I remember. By 
the waj', speaking of horses, what has become of that 
poor Mr. Smith who was so badly hurt last October?" 

" He is still at Elmington, I believe ; that is — yes, of 
course he is there. I mean we left him there." 

"You believe!" laughed Mrs. Kolfe. "Upon my 
word," added she, " that is a summary way of dispos- 
ing of a young man. He must be a nonentity indeed. 
I often wondered that you never mentioned him in 
your letters. Alice, on the contrary, could write of no 
one else. It was the Don did this and the Don said 
that." 

" Her beloved Charley and Mr. Smith are close 
friends." 

" Oh, I see ; but I don't understand how it was that 
Alice seemed to take such a lively interest in ' the 
Don,' as she calls him, while you can scarcely remem- 
ber that he is still at Elmington. She never wrote a 
letter without singing his praises." 

"As I said just now, 'the Don' has the good taste to 
admire Mr. Frobisher." 

" Ah, that accounts for Alice's liking ' the Don.' Am 
I to suppose" (something in Mary's manner made her 
mother feel sure that she was on the right track) — 
" am I to suppose, then, that you are interested in 
some one whom the Don has 7iot the good taste to 
admire?" 

" You are a marvellous guesser, to be sure," cried 
Mary, with a bright laugh, and springing from the 
lounge and into her mother's lap. 

"Ah, I have hit the nail on the head, have I?" asked 
Mrs. Eolfe, with a pleased look of conscious sagacity. 

"What a subtle brain is here!" continued Mary, 
smoothing back the white hairs from her mother's 
forehead, and gazing tenderly into her loving eyes. 

" And so you have been hiding something from your 
poor old mother? But you are going to tell her now, 
aren't you ?" added she, coaxingly. " Who is this per- 
son in whom you are interested?" 

"Mary Rolfe!" 



382 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"Yourself? Ah, I see. Mr. Smith does not like 
you, and therefore you do not fancy Mr. Smith. Am I 
right?" 

'' Not entirely." 

" Oho ! Then he is another of those upon whom you 
have found it impossible to smile. Well, I cannot 
blame him, poor fellow." And she kissed her daugh- 
ter's forehead. " The idea of your having never — but 
why did Alice never allude to this affair? She gave 
me an account of all the others." 

" I can't say," replied Mary, leaving her mother's 
lap for the lounge. 

" So you did not fancy him. Of course not, of course 
not. He is a handsome fellow, — very ; but really, I 
cannot see how he could have had the hardihood to 
make love to you while maintaining his incognito, as 
Alice writes that he still does." 

"Hardihood in making love is just what some girls 
would like." 

"Of course, — some girls; but not a girl brought up 
as you have been. Did he make no apology ? Yes ? 
Well, that was to his honor. He is a gentleman, there 
can be no doubt about that. And you?" 

Mary was lying at full length upon the lounge. " I 
forgave him," said she, averting her face. 

" Ah, we can't help that, my daughter. A woman 
would not be a woman unless" — and reminiscent lights 
and shadows flitted across her face — " unless she kept 
a soft place in her heart for every man who ever loved 
her. But forgiveness and love are different parts of 
speech." 

No answer. 

" To pardon, I say, and to love, are different things," 
repeated she j and her heart began to throb, she hardly 
knew why. 

" Sometimes," said Mary, covering her face with her 
hands. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTEE LIX. 

It was not many minutes after this before Mrs. Eolfo 
found herself across the street and closeted with Alice. 
" I am too tired and nervous to talk now," Mary had 
said ; " wait till to-morrow ; or, if you are very im- 
patient, ask Alice to tell you. She knows all." 

"My dear Alice," asked Mrs. Eolfe, for the twentieth 
time, at the close of a two-hours' investigation, "who is 
this Mr. Don or Smith? Who is his father? Who is 
his mother? How am I to know that my daughter is 
not interested in an adventurer or an escaped lunatic?" 

Alice did her best to reassure Mrs. Eolfe on this point ; 
adding, with a becoming little blush, that she did not 
rely upon her own judgment, solelj', — that e-v-e-r-y- 
b-o-d-y was sure that the Don was all that he should 
be. ^ 

"E-v-e-r-y-b-0-d-y! Then why don't you take him 
yourself? I suppose this same e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y ob- 
jected !" 

"Oh!" 

That was all that this whilom merry babbler could 
say. Her chin (just as though it thought itself the 
most highly improper little chin in the world) tried to 
hide between her shoulder and her throat, nestling 
down somewhere. In those days we thought it was 
becoming, — that sudden rush of roses to a young girl's 
cheek. Now she will look you straight in the face, 
and tell you without blinking that next spring she is to 
marry a man weighing (just as likely as not) two hun- 
dred pounds. It is straightforward, and manly, and 
"good form," — but some of us can't forget the old way, 
and like it still. 

"I must confess, Alice, that I can make nothing of 
the whole business. You tell me that Mary's suitor is 
entirely devoted to her, and that every one has the 
highest respect for him. His incognito need not trouble 
me, you say, since its removal is only delayed, — and 



384 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

delayed, too, through some romantic whim or other of 
Mary herself. But there is one thing which nothing 
you say explains ; that everything you say darkens ; 
why is the poor child so wretched ?" 

Alice was silent. 

"Alice," continued Mrs. Eolfe, placing her hand af- 
fectionately on the young girl's shoulder, " have you 
told me all? It is Mary's express injunction that you 
do so, you know." 

Alice seemed to have something to say, but hesitated. 

" Ah, I see," cried Mrs. Eolfe, jumping to a conclu- 
sion. " He has thrown off his incognito, and there was 
something dreadful, — a living wife in a lunatic asylum 
—or—" 

Alice smiled. " Xo, it is nothing of that kind. To 
tell you the truth, it is all nonsense. Mary is making 
a mountain of a mole-hill." 

" A mountain of a mole-hill ?" 

" Yes." 

"Well?" 

" It is all perfectly absurd — " 

" What disturbs the poor child, — tell me ?" 

" Some nonsensical fears as to his religious tenden- 
cies." 

" His religious tendencies ?" echoed Mrs. Eolfe, puz- 
zled. Suddenly light seemed to break upon her. "For 
heaven's sake, Alice," she cried, pale with anxiety, 
" you do not mean to say that he is a Catholic ! Don't 
tell me that. Tell me that he is a — a — an Atheist, — 
anything but a Catholic!" 

"An Atheist rather than a Catholic?" said Alice, 
raising her eyes to those of Mrs. Eolfe for the first time 
for several minutes. 

" Most assuredly ; a thousand times rather. Why, 
when I was a girl, several of my acquaintances married 
young men who were pleased to consider themselves 
sceptics, — it was rather the fashion in those days, — 
but, bless you, the last one of them was a vestryman 
before five years of married life had passed. But a 
Catholic ! Heaven forbid ! One of two things, Alice, 
invariably happens to a Protestant girl who marries a 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 385 

Catholic. Either, halting between opposing claims, 
she loses all interest in religion itself, or else she goes 
over to the enemy. Oh, Alice, Alice," cried she, with 
sudden vehemence, " do not tell me that my poor 
Mary loves a Catholic ! Lost to me in this world — 
and~" 

I will tell you, my Ah Yung Whack, what Mrs. 
Eolfe was going to say when Alice interrupted her 
with a merry laugh. She was going to add, "lost in 
the next." 

It was, indeed, as I have hinted in earlier chapters 
of this work, the settled conviction of the Protestants 
of Virginia, at that day, that all Catholics were as 
surely destined to the bottomless pit as the very 
heathen who had never so much as heard a whisper of 
the Glad Tidings. (My Catholic friends often com- 
plained to me of this bigotry. For my part, I hardly 
knew whether to laugh or to weep when I remembered 
that they had made precisely the same arrangements 
for my Protestant acquaintance.) 

" Why, who told you he was a Catholic ?" 
" Heaven be praised ! Then what is he, pray ?" 
" I am afraid he is a little sceptical, — or — or — some- 
thing." 

"And is that all? Sceptical or something ! Capital, 
Alice!" cried she, with a bright laugh. "You have hit 
them off to a nicety. Sceptical oi-'something, — that's 
just it. Y^ou see, iny dear, when the beard begins to 
sprout on a youth's chin, he fancies that it is time he 
had opinions of his own. At this period he begins to 
sneer at the 'fiery furnace' story, and discovers that 
whales, though their mouths be large, have small 
throats, and could never have swallowed Jonah. His 
throat, at any rate, is too small to swallow such musty 
tales, — leave that to the old women ! Sceptical or 
something! Excellent, excellent, Alice! Ah, that 
merry tongue of yours!" 

. "I am delighted that you take so philosophical a 
view of the case," said Alice, much taken aback at this 
unexpected praise of her wit. She might have added 
that she was amazed. How often do those we know 



386 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

best utterly confound us in this way! Mrs. Eolfe was 
what some lukewarm people called fanatically pious ; 
and Alice had been looking forward with dread to the 
scene that poor Mary must have with her when she 
learned that her daughter had given her heart to a 
sceptic (or something). Strange! it was the very 
energy of this fanaticism which wrought the result 
which so surprised Alice. It is possible for convictions 
to be so strong as to inspire a merry incredulity touch- 
ing the honesty of opposing beliefs. 

"Why, of course," rejoined Mrs. Eolfe, smiling com- 
placently. (It was the word philosophical that did the 
business.) "The fact is, my dear, there are no infidels. 
It is all the merest affectation. Most young men pass 
through an attack of scepticism, just as, earlier in life, 
teething must be gone through with. It is a cheap 
mode of earning a reputation for brains. With girls, 
this striving to be brilliant takes a different shape. 
Many young women cultivate sarcasm for a year or so 
after leaving school, not having seen enough of man- 
kind to know that a satirical turn infallibly indicates 
the combination of a bad heart with an empty head. 
But people of experience learn to pardon these foibles 
of youth. The fact is, Alice," added Mrs. Eolfe, smiling, 
"I know nothing in life more deliciously comic than a 
young graduate posing as a 'thinker.' Of course, if 
they are loud-mouthed — " 

" That, at least, he is not." 

"Of course not, of course not; since I hear he is a 
gentleman. But how, pray, does he show that he is a 
sceptic, or something? (Capital phrase, upon my word, 
Alice!) How do you know it?" 

" During the whole time that he has been at Elming- 
ton he has never once — I am afraid it is more serious 
than you imagine — " 

"Goon!" 

"Never once put his foot inside the church." 

" Impossible !" cried Mrs. Eolfe. " Why, 'tisn't gen- 
teel !" 

" Never once !'' 

" And his apology ?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 387 

" The Don apologizing !" broke in Alice, with a little 
laugh. "You don't know him!" 

"What! paying court to my daughter, and allowing 
her to go to church, Sunday after Sunday, without 
ever offering to attend her? I should just have liked 
Mr. Eolfe to have tried that game with me / Even now, 
— and we have been married thirty years ! just fancy 
me marching off to church alone !" 

To do Mr. Eolfe justice, those who knew him and the 
partner of his bosom best would never have suspected 
him of trying to play any such game on Mrs. Eolfe in 
their courting days, still less now. He discovered 
^during the first month of the first year of the thirty 
alluded to, that his Araminta was a woman of views ; 
and he had spent the twenty-nine years and eleven 
months immediately preceding these observations of 
Mrs, Eolfe in learning just what those views were, that 
he might the better conform to the same. 

"The i-d-e-a!" chirped Alice. 

" Yes, indeed. And if Mary will be guided by me — 
Upon my word, Alice, aren't we both too absurd"! Has 
the wedding-day been fixed ? If so, I have not heard 
of it. Before that happens, your Mr. Don, or whatever 
he is, will have to have a talk with me — I mean Mr. 
Eolfe." (Which, as she went on to explain, was, as in 
all harmonious households, one and the same thing. 
She could not remember, in fact, when she had expressed 
an opinion different from Mr. Eolfe's.) 

Sly was Mr. Eolfe, they say ; who always let his wife 
have the first say,— and then he had her just where he 
wanted her. 

" He won't find me,— or, rather, Mr. Eolfe,— so senti- 
mental as to refuse to hear who he is !" 

In the end our spirited matron was much mollified 
at learning that the Don had not been " paying court" 
to her daughter, and yet, at the same time, publicly 
slighting her. The affair had been so sudden, etc., etc. 
But Alice's master-stroke was delivered when she told 
how the Don had fought against the avowal of his love. 
Ah ! they never, as we men do, get so old as quite to 
forget all their romance, these women ! 



388 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"Honor is a good thing to begin with," said she. 
"As to the church business, I think we shall be able 
to manage that,^' she added, with a slightly influential 
expression about those lips which had so often carried 
conviction to the peace-loving bosom of the harmonious 
Mr. Eolfe. 

" Provided, of course — " continued she. 

" Oh, of course," chimed in Alice. 



CHAPTEE LX. 



If there was one feeling which swayed Mrs. Eolfe 
quite as strongly as her religious fanaticism (to use the 
word of the lukewarm), it was her absorbing love and 
admiration of her daughter. Not a specially intellect- 
ual woman herself, Mary's gifts and wide culture were 
a source of continual exultation to her. " She gets 
her literary turn from her father," she used to say, 
trul}'^ enough ; for he was a cultivated man (there were 
no " cultured" men in existence then, thank God), who 
would have made his mark in letters had he lived in a 
more stimulating atmosphere. In fact (though Mrs. 
E. always denied it with a blush), he had carried the 
day over more than one suitor for her hand, and woii 
her young heart by means of his endowments in this 
Yery direction ; for while they had been confined, by 
the limitations of their several geniuses, to sighing like 
furnaces, he had made a woful ballad to his mistress's 
eyebrow ; bringing victory ; and the defeated went their 
Yvay, full of strange oaths. 

So that a sort of sentimental interest in literature 
heightened Mrs. Eolfe's admiration for her daughter's 
accomplishments. 

She was her only child, too ; and no one can blame 
her for looking upon it as axiomatic that few men were 
good enough for her Mary. 

Judge of her disma}^, then, when she learned so sud- 
denly that her daughter was profoundly interested in 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 389 

a man whom it was quite natural for her to look upon 
as a suspicious character. No wonder, then, that she 
surprised her neighbors by the rapid pace at which she 
bad crossed the street. She walked briskly, too, when 
she returned from her long talk with Alice, but her face 
wore a different expression. 

For she was rehearsing a pleasant little drama as she 
hurried back across the street. 

Her daughter's sad face had deeply pained her. It 
was plain to see that if she loved not wisely, she loved, 
at least, too well ; and she pitied her from the bottom 
of her heart. Perhaps some anger had been mingled 
with the softer feeling at first ; but Alice had put a 
new face upon the matter ; and she was hurrying home 
to say to her daughter that she for one (and her father 
for another) looked upon the alleged scepticism of 
3'oung men as the most harmless of eccentricities ; and 
her face wore a determined smile. She did not intend 
to commit herself It would be time enough to ex- 
press her views (that is to say, Mr. Eolfe's) when this 
Enigma had given an account of himself But if that 
was all that could be said against him, etc., etc., etc., 
etc. 

And, would you believe it? the very incognito of 
our hero had begun to make the imagination of this 
staid matron cut fantastic capers. Who could tell? 
Strange things had happened before. Why not ? 

" Sceptic or something !" She almost laughed as she 
turned the knob of the door. " The poor child should 
laugh, too !" 

The poor child did not laugh ! 



33* 



390 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTEE LXI. 

The poor child did not laugh. 

"You do not know him, you do not know him," 
again and again she replied, wearilj^ 

She might have added, — but she did not, — " You do 
not know me." And after all, what mother, of them 
all, knows her daughter, enveloped as she is in a double 
veil ? For between the old heart and the young lies 
the mist of the years ; and what eye can pierce aright 
the diffracting medium of maternal love? 

Even Doctor Alice, when called in consultation, next 
day, could not probe to the bottom of the mystery. 

And are there not ever some little nooks and corners 
of our hearts unsuspected by our dearest friends, even ? 
— aspirations that they would have laughed at, per- 
haps, — fears which we should have blushed to confess, 
■ — hopes, alas, withered and fallen now, — that we have 
never revealed to mortal ears ? 

Now, within our Mary's breast there was, I shall not 
say a nook or a recess, but a dark and dismal chamber, 
the key of which had never left her keeping. 

Let us call it the Cavern of Eeligious Terror, and 
cut the allegory short. 

Suppose we try to put ourselves in her place, and 
see how things looked, not to an average girl of that 
period (still less to any one of this), but to one such as 
Mary was. 

At the time in question, the dogma of what is known 
among theologians, I believe, as that of the plenary 
inspiration of the Scriptures, was held from one end of 
Virginia to the other. 

That is to say, my Ah Yung, that every chapter, 
every sentence, every word, and every syllable of the 
Bible had been literally inspired, and was absolutely 
true. This we were expected to believe and did be- 
lieve ; and by what ingenuity we were to escape the 
dogma of eternal damnation I, for one, cannot see. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 391 

But we made no effort to escape it, regarding it, to a 
man, as the mainstay of society and the sheet-anchor 
of all the virtues. A belief in hell was ranked among 
the necessaries of life. 

" 'Twas the merest luxurj^," quoth Charley. 

Now, what is the imagination but a kind of inner 
eye, revealing to us, often with fearful distinctness, 
that which may be, but is not. And imagination was, 
as we know, an overshadowing trait of Mary's mind. 

And what a training that imagination had! Her 
mother thought it was her duty, so let that pass; but 
hardly had she shed her long clothes when her preco- 
cious little head began to teem with burning lakes, and 
writhing souls, and mocking demons, and worms that 
die not. And, ofttimes, her little heart almost ceased 
to beat, as she lay in her trundle-bed, and, with wide- 
staring eyes, saw her own baby-self engirdled with un- 
quenchable flames. For had she not fretted over her 
Sunday-school lesson that very morning (longing to 
dress her new doll), and said it was too long, and oh! 
that she hated the catechism ? 

Now, among those who accept this dogma, there are 
various ways of dealing with it. The immense ma- 
jority inscribe it among the articles of their creed, 
fold the paper, label it, and file it away in some dusty 
pigeon-hole, in an out-of-the way corner of their heads, 
and go about their business. They are satisfied to 
know that it is there, and that there is no heresy about 
them. A true Virginian looks upon his faith much as 
he does upon a Potomac herring, and would no more 
think of finding fault with the one because of a knotty 
point or so, than with the other for the bones it con- 
tains. He wouldn't be caught carrying a stomach 
about with him that was capable of making wry faces 
over such spieulse, not he. Look at that noble roe, 
that firm flesh, as stimulating as cognac! No cod-fish, 
no heres}' for him ! 

So with the vast majority. 

Then, there is another class of minds, with which to 
believe is to realize. To such this article of their faith 
assumes abnormal proportions, dwarfing all others. 



392 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Upon this alone their glassy eyes are fixed. Let lis 
pass them by with bowed heads. Seeking heaven in 
the world to come, they have found a hell in this. 

Our Mary stood between these two classes, belong- 
ing to neither; but by the nature of her mental con- 
stitution she leaned fearfull}^ towards the latter. See- 
ing is believing; but with Mary to believe was to see. 
And from her infancy to her womanhood her fond 
mother had done all that in her lay, unwittingly, to 
overthrow her reason. That that fair mind did not 
become as sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh, 
was due to her father. It was he that saved her, — un- 
wittingly as well, — saved her through books. 

Mr. Eolfe had no son, and Mary was his only daugh- 
ter. He made her his companion in his walks and in 
his study; and she became, like him, an omnivorous 
reader; and the baleful phantasms of her distempered 
spirit grew paler in the presence of other and brighter 
thoughts. The process went further. As she read and 
read, drawing upon all the great literatures (when she 
could, in the original — else in translations), there grad- 
ually dawned upon her a sense of the immense diver- 
sity of human opinion. 

And yet, with what undoubting tenacity each people 
clung to its faith! Hindu, Turk, G-reek, Spaniard, 
Scotchman, — each was in exclusive possession of the 
Eternal Verities ! 

The materials of the generalization were all there ; 
and one fine morning she said to berself : Eeligious truth 
is simply a question of geography. 

Mary Eolfe was a sceptic ! 

And yet she had not read one sceptical book. Where 
was she to find such in Eichmond? 

But this demure little miss of sixteen summers did 
what she could to keep her doubts to herself. How 
shockingly ungenteel to be an infidel ! And a female 
infidel ! An agnostic would have been diff'erent. The 
very sound of the word is ladylike ; but, unhappily 
for our heroine, their day had not yet come. And for 
a whole year there was not a more wretched little 
woman in all Eichmond. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 393 

Two clocks shall stare at each other, from opposite 
walls, year in and year out, and agree to disagree with- 
out the least discomfort to either. And would that we 
men were even as these serenely-ticking philosophers! 
Alas for the shadow that falls on the friendship of Mrs. 
A. and Mrs. B., when they become adherents of rival 
sewing-machines ! And why, because our whilom 
chum now goes about with the pellets of the Homoeo- 
path in his vest-pocket, forsaking the boluses of the 
Ecgulars, why should we turn and rend him ? 

Dreading to be rent, our sweet-sixteener kept her 
daring speculations locked within her bosom, and was 
wretched ; for man's opinions, like man himself, are 
gregarious, — and a thought is as restless in solitude as 
a bird cut off from its mate. 

So this state of things could not last. And when 
Alice, after looking very serious for a week, announced 
her intention of being confirmed on the approaching 
visitation of the bishop, Mary had to speak. Alice 
was horrified at first ; but, being a plucky little soul, 
more given to acting, under difficulties, than repining, 
she posted off to their pastor. 

He made short work of Mary's difficulties ; and, 
being well up in evidential polemics, battered down 
her vague objections to the credibility of Christianity 
with such ease, that, at the close of a two-hours' in- 
terview, she begged, in deep humiliation, that he would 
not consider her an entirely brainless creature ; so ut- 
terly frivolous had all her objections been made to 
appear. Two or three books, left in her hands, finished 
the business. And, a few weeks later, Mary and Alice 
knelt side by side, and took upon themselves their bap- 
tismal vows. 

Now, among the various phases of infidelity, there 
are two forms which are strongly antithetical, — the 
scepticism of the body and the scepticism of the mind. 
Who has not seen a vigorous young animal of our spe- 
cies, his head as void of brains as his body is full of 
riotous passions, — who has not seen such a one masquer- 
ading as a freethinker? Never fear, reverend and 
dear sir; thinking will have to be wondrous free 



394 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

before any of it passes his way. Sooner or later you 
shall number him among the meekest of your lambs. 
A hemorrhage — a twinge of gout in the stomach — 
any reminder that he is mortal — and you shall see him 
passing the plate along the aisles, and offering to take 
a class in your Sunday-school. In fact, a few such re- 
claimed sheep are a positive necessity in every flock. 
They point a moral. Eemember what he was, and see 
"what he is. And the blasphemer of yesterday becomes 
the beacon -light of to-day. 

But when doubts have their origin in the higher 
rather than the lower nature, — when a mind, at once 
candid and searching, gradually finds itself forced to 
question dogmas learned from a mother's lips, — for this 
phase of scepticism, the cure is far more difficult, and 
rarely radical. You may mow down the doubts with 
irresistible logic, they may be crushed into the very 
earth by the enormous weight of unanimous opposing 
opinion, but they are not dead. Eemove the pressure, 
and the mind bristles, instantly, with interrogation- 
points. 

"No," said her kindly pastor, patting her brown 
hair, "I am far from thinking that this little head is 
brainless. The trouble lies in the opposite direction. 
Stop thinking about things that are above the reach of 
the human mind, — above it, for the very reason that 
they are of God. Honestly, now, if we could grasp the 
meaning of every word in that Bible of ours, as though 
it were a human production, would not that, of itself, 
prove that it was of man ? To be of God is to be in- 
scrutable. Is not that what a fair mind should expect? 
Undoubtedly. But my advice to you is, not to bother 
your head about such subtleties. Stop thinking, and 
go to work. You will find that a panacea worth all 
the logic in the world." 

And such Mary found it to be. And her class in the 
Sunday-school was soon recognized as the best. And 
she taught the servants of her mother's household, and 
read to them till they nodded again. 

And so, when she went down to spend Christmas in 
Leicester, after a year spent in these works of charity, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 395 

she had forgotten that she had ever been a doubter. 
Two months had passed, and she was all at sea again. 
She felt that her faith was slipping from beneath' her 
feet. She repeated to herself, over and over again, the 
arguments of her pastor ; she read and re-read his books. 
Their logic seemed irresistible; 3-et it did not give her 
rest. Her head was convinced, — 'twas her heart that 
was in rebellion. And she was woman enough to know 
the danger of that. 

Faith or love,— -which should it be? One cannot 
serve two masters. 

"Nonsense!" said the cheery Alice, one day. "I 
can imagine now how he will look, marching to church 
with your praj^er-book in his hand!" 

" No, it is not nonsense." 

"Pooh! we shall have him singing in the choir 
before you have been married six months." 

Mary laughed (for who could resist the Enchantress?) ; 
and Alice, seizing her advantage, drew picture after 
picture of the reclaimed Don, each more ludicrous than 
the other (throwing in parenthetical glimpses of her 
own Charley), till both girls were convulsed with 
merriment. 

"No, Alice," said Mary, at last, wiping the tears 
from her eyes, " it is a very serious matter. Do you 
know what \^uld happen? He would not be saved, 
but /should be lost." 

That was what troubled Mary. That was why she 
could not laugh when her mother made merry over 
sceptical youths. He who had spoken so well and so 
strangely, down there by the Argo, was not a sceptical 
youth, but a man of most vehement convictions. And 
she felt that she would be clay in his hands. His faith, 
was formed ; hers would be formed upon it. Formed 
upon it? Crushed against it, rather! For, after all, 
though of a deeply religious nature, as was plain, had 
he any religion ? 

That was the way we Virginians* looked at it. If 



* Why Virginians f Can this so-called Mr. John Bouche Whacker be a 
cari^et-bagger ? — Ed. 



396 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

you were not orthodox, you didn't count. If you 
were not for us, you were against us. " I look upon 
all Protestant ministers as wolves in sheep's clothing," 
said a Catholic to me. Per contra, I once asked a 
Presbyterian minister — a friend of mine — how he rated 
Catholicism. "What do you mean?" "Do you look 
upon it as a religion, for example ?" He was a good 
fellow, and wished to be charitable. He hung his head. 
He felt half ashamed of what he was going to say. 
But he said it. Slowly raising his eyes to mine, he 
answered, in a voice full of sadness, " I do not. I re- 
gard it as worse than nothing." 

Ah, we were out-and-outers in those days ! An error 
was worse than a crime. That could be atoned for, 
with the one, by confession and absolution ; with the 
other by repentance, even at the eleventh hour. But 
getting into the wrong pew! "A blind horse tumbles 
headforemost into a well. He did not know it was there I 
Does that save his neckf 

Ole Yirginny nebber tire ! 

Such was the atmosphere which our Mary breathed. 
And — strange psychological paradox — just in propor- 
tion as her faith weakened did its terrors grow darker 
to her mind. That yawning gulf, upon the brink of 
which she used to tremble as a little child, seemed to 
have opened again. She believed less — she feared more. 
The peace she had gained was gone. The old dark 
days had come back. One cannot serve two masters; 
for either — 

But faith or love — which ? 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 397 



CHAPTER LXII. 

One day, Maiy burst into Alice's room. "Read 
that," said she ; and she threw herself upon the lounge, 
with her face to the wall. 

Alice was a brave little soul ; but Mary's pale face 
and tear-stained cheeks upset her, and her hands shook 
a little as she unfolded the letter. She read the first 
page with eager haste and contracted brows; then 
turned nervously to the last (the sixteenth), and read 
the concluding sentence and signature. 

" Why, what can the matter be, Mary ? It begins 
well, it ends well ?" 

" It is the same all through." 

" The same all through ! And you crying I Upon 
my word, Mary, you — " 

" Read it." 

Those satirists who claim that nothing can stop a 
woman's tongue have never tried the experiment of 
handing her a love-letter. Over Alice there now came 
a sudden stillness, chequered only by exclamations of 
delight, — 

'So nice ! — beautiful ! — too lovely ! — A-a-a-a-h, M-a-r-y! 
Marj', let me read this aloud? A-a-a-h! No? You 
goose! A-a-a-h, too beautiful, — too sweet for any- 
thing! — I declare I shall be heels over head in love 
with him myself before — Gracious, what a torrent I 
What vehemence! Do you know, Mary, he almost 
frightens me ? Well, I have read the letter ; and now, 
miss, be so good as to explain what you mean by 
scaring people so with your white face and red 
eyes?'' 

" It is hard," said Mary, after a pause, and trying to 
control her voice, — " it is hard to give — up — all — that — 
love. And such love !" 

34 



398 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" Give it up ! Are you crazy ?" 

"Much nearer than you think. I have scarcely 
closed my eyes for two nights. I feel that I cannot 
stand this state of things much longer." 

'* What dreadful things does he believe, Mary ?" 

" I have no idea." 

" Then write and ask him. I feel sure that you 
could bring him over, j'ou who are so brilliant and all 
that, you know. I wouldn't say so to your face, but 
I don't care what compliments I pay the back of your 
head." 

Mary turned and laughed. 

"I am glad," continued Alice, "I am not a genius 
with a bee in my bonnet ; and let me tell you, there is 
a gigantic one, of the bumble variety, buzzing, at this 
very moment, just Aere." And she rapped Mary's head 
with the rosy knuckle of her forefinger. 

Mary adopted Alice's suggestion ; and there sprang 
up, between herself and the Don, a correspondence 
which lasted for two months. Eight or nine weeks of 
theological discussion between two lovers! Think of 
it! 

Ole Yirginny nebber tire ! 

Think of it, but tremble not, my reader. Not one 
line of it all shall you be called on to read. Were I 
an adherent of the' Analytical and Intellectual School, 
as it is called, of American !N"ovelists, you should have 
every word of it. Then you would be able to trace 
the most minute processes of our Mary's soul, and real- 
ize, step by step, how she reached the state of mind 
to which this correspondence ultimately brought her. 
But I w^ill spare you; for I am a kind, good Bush- 
whacker, if ever there was one. 

Assume, therefore, a hundred pages, or so, of keenest 
Insight and most Intellectual Dissection, and that we 
have reached the end of it. Here is where we find 
ourselves. (No thanks; it would have bored me as 
much to write it as you to read it.) 

During these two months Mary has been in a per- 
petual ferment. She has read all the books of eviden- 
tial polemics that she could lay her hands on, and her 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 399 

mind has become a very magazine of crushing syllo- 
gisms. She has been pouring these out with all that 
eloquence that love is so sure to lend a woman's pen. 
Da}' by day she has become more thoroughly convinced 
of the impregnability of her position (just as lawyers' 
convictions bloom ever stronger under the irrigation 
of repeated fees, — retainer, reminder, refresher, con- 
vincer). From a trembling doubter she has grown 
into a valiant knight-errant of the faith, ready to 
measure lances with all comers. 

And what has he had to say on the other side ? Noth- 
ing. Or next to nothing. Has patted her on the head, 
rather, and praised her eloquence. Has promised that 
if ever she turn preacher, he will be there, every Sun- 
day, to hear. And, instead of answering her letters, has 
told her that every one made him love her a thousand 
times more than before. Not an argument any more 
than a cliff argues with the waves that break against it. 

And, like the waves, her enthusiasm had its ebb- 
tides. Days of profound discouragement came over her, 
when arrows she thought sure to pierce his armor 
glanced harmless away and left him smiling. 

Left him smiling. So she thought. But it was not 
so. Our little heroine stood upon a volcano. 

When she was with the Don, there was something 
about him which told her what she could say to him, 
what not. But the paper on which he wrote w^as like 
other paper, and gave no warning. How could she, so 
far away, see the dark look that came into his face as 
he read this in one of her letters : 

" How can you," she had said, at the close of an im- 
passioned burst on the beneficence of the Creator, as 
evinced in the beauties of nature, — " how can you, as 
you look upon that beautiful, shining river, and the 
rosy clouds that float above it, and breathe this balmy 
air of spring, — how can you lift your eyes from such a 
scene of loveliness and bounteous plenty as surrounds 
you, — how dare you raise your eyes to heaven and say, 
there is no God !" 

She could not see his look when he read that. All 
she saw was something hke this : 

34 



400 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" I cannot pretend to argue with such a wonderful 
little theologian as you, — I who know nothing of the- 
ology. But where did you get the notion that I was 
an atheist? I could almost wish I were one, for the 
mere happiness of being converted by you. In point 
of fact, I am nothing of the kind. How could I be? 
I need not look at the rosy sunset, or the smiling fields 
about me, to learn that there is a Grod. I have but to 
gaze into my own heart, and upon your image im- 
printed there. A fool might say that land and sea came 
by chance ; but my Mary ! Her arguments are not 
needed. She herself is all-sufficient proof, to me at 
least, that there exists, somewhere, a Divine Artificer. 
So don't call names. It isn't fair. Atheist, deist, in- 
fidel, old Nick, — what arrow can I send back in retort ? 
Arrows I have, — a quiver full to bursting, — but all are 
labelled angel V 

How was she to know that she stood upon a preci- 
pice? But Charley saw that all was not well. Look- 
ing up from a letter he was reading (his face was red 
from a sudden stoop to snatch, unobserved, some vio- 
lets that had fluttered out as he unfolded it). Looking 
up from this letter — 

But Charley had his troubles, too, of which I must 
tell you before we go an inch further. 

Bet^veen him and Alice, as well, a controversy raged. 
But in the case of this couple it was Charley that did 
all the arguing. 

The proposition that young Frobisher maintained, in 
letter after letter, was this : that when a girl had prom- 
ised to marry a fellow, she should never thereafter write 
to him without telling him somewhere — he did not care 
a fig (not he!) whether it was in the beginning, or the 
end, or the middle of the letter — that she loved him ; 
just for the sake of cheering a fellow up, you know, 
away down here in the country, and all that. He 
would be satisfied even with a postscript of three words 
(he would), if you would but let him name the words, 
etc., etc. After this she had never written a letter with- 
out a postscript ; but whether from the love of teasing, 
which is innate in cats and young women, when they 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 401 

have a mouse or a man in their power, or from genuine 
maidenly modesty, she never said, in plain Eno;lish, ex- 
actly what Charley wished to hear; as, P. S. — Unreason- 
able old goose, or, IIow could If or, I iconder if I do? or, 
Wliat do you think ? But they were the merriest letters 
that ever were seen, and made Charley so happy (for 
all his grumblino^) that at this period of his life he used 
to wake up a dozen times a night, smiling to himself, 
all in the dark ; then float off again into a dreamland 
populous with postscripts of the most maudlin descrip- 
tion. " Do you know," said he, in one of his letters, 
" that never once in my whole life has a woman said 
to me, Hove you f 

Opening the reply hastily (to read the postscript 
first), the violets had dropped out, covering the poor 
boy with blissful confusion. I don't hate you a bit, said 
the postscript. 

Some metaphysical notion must have come into 
Charley's head, as he read those words don't hate. Did 
he, perhaps, think, that somewhere between the nega- 
tive don't and the positive hate there must lurk, 
though invisible, the longed-for word love? At any 
rate, selecting a spot midway, he kissed it with accu- 
racy and fervor. 

" Umgh — umgh !" grunted Uncle Dick, who had hap- 
pened to step up on the threshold just at this critical 
and romantic juncture. 

" I did nothing of the kind !" said Charley. 

" What ?" asked the Don, looking up from his letter. 

" Nothing," said Charley. 

" Uncle Dick !" called Charley, at the door whence 
the venerable butler had vanished, "come here I I say, 
if ever you tell Uncle Tom — " 

"Tell him what, Marse Charley?" 

" You old villain ! There, — go to the sideboard and 
help yourself!" 

"Much obleeged, mahrster; my mouf is a leetle 
tetched wid de drought, dat's a fac'. And here's many 
happy returns to you, likewise all enquirin' friends; 
and here's hopin' dat de peach may tase as sweet in you 
mouf as it look to you a-hangin' on de tree !" And he 
aa 34* 



402 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

vanished, backing out of the room, smiling and bow- 
ing — 

As though a courtier quitted the presence-chamber 
of Louis Quatorze ! 

It was looking up from this very same violet-scented 
letter that Charley saw the Don gazing out of the 
window with a troubled look. " What has Mary been 
writing to the Don?" he asked Alice. "He and I 
don't compare notes, as I suppose you do. For some 
time past his face has been clouded after reading one 
of her letters. What does it mean?" 

Alice acquainted him, in her next, with the nature 
of the correspondence, and was surprised at the 
earnestness of Charley's protest against the course 
Mary was pursuing. "If j'ou have any influence over 
Mary, stop this thing; stop it instantly. She is tread- 
ing on a mine. You and Mary are deceived by the 
gentleness and courtesy of his replies. You don't 
know the man. I do ; and, as Uncle Dick says about 
a certain mule on the place here, he isn't the kind of 
man to projick 'long o'. 'She am a slecpy-lookin' ani- 
mil, Marse Charley, and she look like butter wouldn't 
melt in her mouf ; no mor'n 'twouldn't, eff you leff 
her 'lone; but I rickommen' dat you don't tetch her 
nowhar of a suddent, leastwise whar she don't want 
to be tetched. De man what tickle dat muil in de 
flank, to wake her up, sort o', will find hisself waked 
up powerful, hisself. Lightnin' ain't a suckumstance to 
dat d'j'ar self-same Sally-muil when she are tetched 
onproper to her notion. Don't you projick 'long o' 
Sall}^, I tellj'ou, mun. Hrrrup! Umgh — umgh! Good- 
by, chile ; for you're a-gwine to kingdom come.' " 

Alice laughed so at this comical illustration that, 
most likel}^, she would have forgotten the injunction it 
enforced, but for a postscript in these words: "It is a 
habit with me — an aff'ectation, if you will — always to 
say less than I mean. C. F." 

Startled by this ominous hint, Alice fluttered across 
the street and into Mary's room; and there was a field- 
day between them. 

The conflict lasted for hours, and seemed likely to 



TEE STORY OF DON MIFF. 403 

end in a drawn battle, — a defeat, that is, for the attack- 
ing party. Alice's old weapons, with which she had 
so often gained the victory over her less ready ad- 
versary, seemed to have lost their edge. In vain did 
she coruscate with wit, bubble with humor, caper about 
the room in a hundred little droll dramatic impromptus. 
Mary was unmoved, and sat with her eyes bent upon 
the floor. At last, with a flushed face, Alice rose to 
go; and it was then that she shot a Parthian arrow. 

"Yery well, Mary." And her eyes looked so dark 
that you would never have said that they were hazel. 
" Very well ; have your way ; but I should not have 
thought it of you !" 

" You are not angry with me ?" said she, seizing her 
hand. 

"No, not angry; but disappointed. I never pre- 
tended to have anything heroic about me, Mary. I am 
only an every-day sort of a girl; but I can tell you 
this. If I loved a man — " 

"Don't you?" 

" If I loved a man, I should stand by him to the last, 
no matter what he might think of the — the — Penta- 
teuch — or even Deuteronomy." And a twinkle danced, 
for a moment, in her flashing eyes. " What he thought 
o^ Alice '^ added she, with a parenthetical smile, ^Hhat 
would be the main point with me. And if he loved me 
as the Don loves you, I would follow him to the ends 
of the earth. Yes, and to the end of the world. To 
the end of the world — and — and — beyond!" 

A noble devotion illumined her face as she uttered 
these words, and Mary's eyes kindled in sympathy. 

"Then you would marry an unbeliever?" 

"Mary, if you were to fall into a river, the Don 
would leap in to save j'ou. You see him battling with 
waves of another kind — and — you hesitate! Plunge 
boldly in, — throw your loving arms around — " 

"Oh!" 

" Metaphorically speaking !" 

"Ah!" 

"Of course!" 



404 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTEE LXIII. 

The two friends sat down and talked ever so much 
more. Alice did not show Charley's letter to Mary, 
but before she said good-night she exacted a promise 
from her to give up her religious warfare upon the 
Don. 

Mary meant to keep her word, but the fates were too 
strong for her. 

Among her relatives there was a young man — a 
second cousin, I believe — whose society she greatly en- 
joyed ; for he was well-read, naturally bright, and a 
capital talker. He had studied law, and, in fact, been ad- 
mitted to the bar; but he was not strong enough for 
that laborious profession, and, being an ardent student, 
soon broke down. During Mary's stay at Elmington he 
had had an alarming hemorrhage. This visitation (it 
had occurred on Christmas Day, too) he looked upon 
as a call to the ministry, to use the language of the 
period. And so the man whom she had left; two 
months before, a bright ambitious young lawyer, she 
found, on her return, an exceedingly serious theological 
student. 

In Virginia, the relations existing between cousins 
of opposite sex are pleasanter, I believe, than in most 
other parts of the world. At any rate, these two were 
almost like brother and sister. 

What kind of man was this Don ? and, most impor- 
tant of all, in his eyes, how did he stand as to the ques- 
tion of questions ? It was some time before he got the 
whole truth out of Mary ; partly because she was loath 
to tell it, partly because, as a Virginian of the period, 
it was difficult for him to take it in. But it dawned on 
him by degrees, and gave him all the greater concern, 
knowing Mary, as he did, so thoroughly. Mary had, 
in fact, made an exception of him in her sceptical days, 
and told him everything. And now again (when once 
the ice was broken) she was as unreserved. She felt 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 405 

that her heart would burst if she could not pour forth 
her troubles into some sympathetic ear. She had 
Alice, it is true ; but there are many things which a 
woman would sooner say to a man than to one of her 
own sex. 

And especially, during these conferences, was she 
never tired of sketching the Don. But, as line after 
line of his character came out in bolder and bolder re- 
lief, more and more convinced became her cousin that 
it would be a fatal blunder on Mary's part to unite her 
destiny with that of this man, whose convictions were 
as firm as they were objectionable. It was easy to see 
who would lead and who follow in such partnership. 

And at first he had joined the crusade against the 
erroneous tenets of the Don: lending books and sug- 
gesting arguments to Mary; but he soon gave up even 
the slender hopes he at first had of success, and from 
that day, to Alice's great indignation, left no stone un- 
turned to induce Mary to break with her lover. 

And his words had great weight with Mary. His 
strength was rapidly failing. The hectic flush on his 
wan cheeks and the unnatural lustre of his eyes showed 
but too plainly that he was not long for this world; 
and his hollow voice seemed to Mary, at times, almost 
a warning from the next. Between him and Alice it 
was an even battle ; victory inclining first to one stand- 
ard and then to the other. Just at the present junc- 
ture she is perched on Alice's banner. For Marj^ has 
promised to let Hume and Voltaire take care of them- 
selves for the future; and, since logic had failed, to 
trust to love. 

She slept well that night, and awoke next morning 
blithe and gay. Awoke singing rather than sighing. 
Her song was short. 

That evening her cousin came. She told him of her 
resolution. He seemed unusually ill that day; and 
whether from that cause (he coughed a good deal) or 
because he deemed it useless to remonstrate, he said 
little, and soon took his leave, giving her, as he bade 
her good-night, a look full of affectionate compassion. 

Two or three days after this, on Sunday, Mary took 



406 THE STORV OF DON MIFF. 

her seat in her mother's pew, nestling in her accus- 
tomed corner. I hardly think she heard much of the 
service ; and when the pastor gave out chapter and 
verse (of his sermon), his voice tell upon her outward 
ear merely. Her thoughts were far away. 

Ah, brother and sister Yirginians, who can wonder 
that we stream to church so, on Sunday ? What serener 
half-hour can there be than when the good man is talk- 
ing to us? Have we not sat under his teaching for 
years? And doth not all the world allow him to be 
orthodox ? Shall we watch him, then ? Shall we weigh 
his words? That, being a safe man, he will do. Let 
him talk! He will say the right thing, never fear! 
Trust him ! Give him room ! While we, free from the 
anxieties of business and the petty cares of home, sit 
there, peacefully dreaming, each one of us the dreams 
that each loves best ! 

No ; I am afraid Mary did not even hear what chap- 
ter and verse the text was from that Sunday. That 
Sunday, particularly ; for the very day before she had 
received a letter in which her lover had said something 
like this: Yes, he went to church now; that is, he sat 
in the Argo every Sundaj^, from eleven till one; sat 
there and thought of nothing but her, — and so found 
that heaven which she sought. 

Strictly speaking, these were what were thought 
wicked words in those days (ole Yirginny neber tire); 
but Mary forgave, though she did not even try to for- 
get them. And no sooner had she taken her seat than 
her thoughts flew to the Argo. She could see him as 
plainly as though he stood before her; and he was 
thinking of her. And of her only, of all the world ! 

Are you in love, lovely reader? Then you will not 
be hard on my poor little heroine, who ought to have 
waited, I allow, till Monda}^ 

"You will find the words of my text in II. Corin- 
thians, vi. 14." 

In those days I sat in the Carters' pew. The Rolfea 
were across the aisle, a few pews in advance of us. 
Mary's cousin was still nearer the pulpit. 

I suppose it is none of my business, but when I cast 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 407 

my eyes over the placid faces of a congregation, £ 
always fall to. wondering what thc}^ are thinking about. 
Not the grandmothers in Israel, but the rest? 

'• II. Corinthians, vi. 14," repeated the preacher, 
slowly emphasizing the figures. They all do it. 

There was to be heard that faint rustle that we all 
know, of the people making themselves comfortable. 
Here a little foot peeps cautiously around, and, finding 
the accustomed stool, draws it deftly beneath snowy 
skirts. There a wide sole seeks unoccupied space; 
while length of limb penetrates unexplored regions, 
avoiding cramp. Let us adjust ourselves, you in that 
corner, 1 in this, where we can sit and muse according 
to the bent of our several backs and minds. 

" II. Corinthians, vi. 14." 

My eye chanced to fall on Mary's face just at that 
moment. It w^ore the usual Sunday-dreamy look. 

" Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbe- 
lievers." 

She shivered. 

Alice glanced quickly towards her ; but the thrill 
had already passed. She had regained outward com- 
posure, and sat looking at the preacher, calm and un- 
obtrusively attentive. 

The cousin fidgeted in his seat and coughed softly 
in his hand. 

Alice fixed her eyes upon him. 

Perhaps he felt them, for a deeper glow suffused his 
hectic cheek. 

The preacher, after a few introductory remarks on 
the state of things which led the apostle to use these 
words, began with a sort of apology for calling the 
attention of his flock to such a text. And again Alice 
fixed her eyes upon the cousin, and again he seemed to 
feel their glow. 

I shall not attempt to reproduce the sermon. His 
sketch of the advance of skepticism in Europe, in Eng- 
land, and in the North, struck me as labored ; showing 
clearly that he had been set upon the task. But I 
shall not criticise it. He was at home, certainly, when 
he pictured the life of a pious, Christian woman whoso 



408 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

yoke-fellow was an atheist. It was a fearful picture 
(from the point of view of his hearers^ — and he was 
preaching to them), of which every detail was harrow- 
ing. But I leave that picture to the imagination of 
my readers. 

It is the last feather that breaks the camel's back. 

Alice had lost. 

The dying cousin had won. 



CHAPTEE LXIY. 

I HAVE stated, elsewhere, that the dogma of the 
plenary inspiration of the Scriptures was held, at this 
period, throughout the length and breadth of Virginia. 
It was held, in truth, in a way to warm the heart of a 
thoroughgoing theologian ; for to doubt it was to be 
totally bereft of reason. But many of my middle-aged 
fellow-citizens who are accustomed to laugh at the 
Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility, will be surprised 
when I remind them that, at that day, we believed, 
also, in something very nearly akin to the plenary in- 
spiration of sermons (those of our own sect, of course). 

And my Bushwhackerish candor compels me to go 
further, and to add that it seems to me that we Vir- 
ginia Protestants, at that da}^, carried the dogma of 
parsonic infallibility to even greater lengths than 
Catholics do that of the papal. For, as I understand 
it, it is only in matters of faith that the Pope cannot 
err (and if he be infallible more than that, I kiss his 
holiness's toe and beg absolution) ; whereas, our Prot- 
estant pontiffs did not hesitate to pronounce on all 
manner of questions, — questions of hygiene, for ex- 
ample ; going so far as to add an eleventh command- 
ment. As it is short, I will give it: 

" Thou shalt not dance !" they cried in thunder tones; 
and, trembling, their flocks obeyed ! 

Yet dancing is (as you may find in the first diction- 
ary you shall lay your hands on) — dancing is but the 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 409 

Thythmic capering of the young of our species for a 
brief season (ah, how brief and fleeting!). The rhyth- 
mic capering of the boys and girls, reinforced, perhaps, 
by an occasional widower (vivacious, high-prancing, 
nor hard to please), or else a sporadic widow or so, 
forgetting her first and for getting her second. 

This capering our Protestant pontiffs put down. 
Motion, per se, they argued, was harmless ; for the 
lamb, most scriptural of animals, frisketh where he 
listeth. 'Twas the rhythm of motion that was hurt- 
ful. 

''Miss Sally," cried a colored slave and sister to her 
young mistress, "you jump de rope and swing in de 
hammock, and you a member o' de church!" [Her 
very words ; nor were they the remains of a half-for- 
gotten African fetich. They were a legitimate deduc- 
tion from the theology current in my young days.] 

"Thou shalt not dance !" they thundered. 

As though one bade the birds cease singing. And 
Yirginia bowed her head and obej'ed. 

We had our youthful sinners, of course, who wickedly 
refused to be content with Blind Man's Buff and Who's 
Got the Thimble? (just as His Holiness is bothered 
with his heretics). The Pope, however, wisely remem- 
bering that this is the nineteenth century, would prob- 
ably leave it to the astronomers to say whether the 
earth revolves around its axis; but as to the exclu- 
sively physiological question whether it were injurious 
to dance a Yirginia reel, no Yirginian of those days 
ever dreamed of consulting his family physician. 

Am I beyond the mark, reader, when I say that the 
papal infallibility pales in presence of the parsonic? 

Can you wonder, then, that our poor little Mary was 
pale as ashes as she hurried home that day ? 

Her mother walked beside her in silence. That was 
bitter; for during these two months past Mrs. Eolfe 
had been more and more won over to the side of the 
Don by what she had heard, not only from Mrs. Carter 
and Alice, but from several of her acquaintance who 
had met him in Leicester during the winter ; and the 
aggregate of her favorable impressions had been greatly 
s 35 



410 THE SrORY OF DON MIFF. 

strengthened by a little incident that bad recently come 
to her ears. 

It appears that Mrs. Poythress had been greatly in- 
terested in having a new roof and other repairs put 
upon the old church, and had succeeded in raising the 
whole amount, with the exception of eighty dollars. 
Now, one Sunday, as she was coming out of church 
with the congregation, a negro man, taking off his hat, 
handed her a small parcel, saying, " I were inquested 
to ban' you dis, ma'am," and immediately bowed him- 
self around the corner of the building and disappeared. 
When this was opened it w^as found to contain five 
twenty-dollar gold-pieces and a strip of paper on which 
Avas wu-itten the word roof in a disguised hand. The 
incident made some stir, as such things wnll, in a 
country neighborhood. Who was this, who was hiding 
from his left hand what his right hand did? The negro 
was hunted down by amateur female detectives, and 
proved to be none other than our friend Sam (who, it 
will be remembered, caught Charley and Alice at their 
love-making in the Argo). But nothing could be gotten 
out of honest Sam. " I was not to name no names," — 
that was all he would say (adding thereunto, in the 
Elmington kitchen that night, that eff a five-dollar 
note wouldn't shet a nigger mouf, twan't no use to 
wase stickin'-plaster on him). 

It was never discovered who had contributed the 
hundred dollars, but it w^as generally believed that it 
was the Don. As for Mrs. Eolfe, she never doubted 
for one moment that it was he, basing, too, upon this 
conclusion, half a dozen inferences, all favorable to the 
young man, — first, that his not going to church was a 
transient eccentricity ; secondly, that he w^as a man of 
means ; and, thirdly, that he was freehanded with the 
said means, etc., etc., etc. 

This trait, as I presume everybody knows, is that 
which, next to personal courage, ^vomen most admire 
in a man. With what enthusiasm wnll a bevy of girls 
hail a bouquet, costly beyond the means of the giver, 
while the recipient of it, as she passes it from nose to 
nose, actually tosses hers with pride, — yes, — because 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 411 

her lover has not had the prudence to lay by what he 
gave for it aii^ainst a rainy day and shoes for the chil- 
dren. Which is enough to make a philosopher rage ; 
and it is all I can do to restrain my hand from levelling 
a sneer at the whole sex ; and I'll do it yet, one of 
these days, and come out as a wit, — one of these days 
when I can manage to forget that I once had a mother. 

The more, therefore, Mrs. Eolfe heard of the Don, 
the more favorable she grew to his suit ; and the more 
favorable she grew to his suit the more frequently did 
she allude to the absolute necessity of Mr. Rolfe's seeing 
the young man and hearing his account of himself, be- 
fore he could be allowed even to look at her Mary. It 
would be time enough, etc., etc.; but let a cloud appear 
on her daughter's brow, — let her come down to break- 
fast pale and worn — 

"I believe, Mary," Alice used to say, "that you often 
assume a rueful countenance simply to lead your mother 
on to sing his praises." 

Never, in truth, had Mary felt herself so drawn to 
her mother as during this trying period of her young 
life; and to her ineffably tender, maternal solicitude 
her heart made answer with an unspoken yet passionate 
gratitude. 

And "now this mother, who was always ready with a 
soothing word, walked by her side in silence. 

And Alice, — Alice, the merry and the brave, — where 
was she? Why does she, contrary to her custom, hang 
back so far in the rear, talking to Mr. Whacker in 
undertones? See, she has crossed over, and is walking 
down the street on the other side ! Has she, too, de- 
serted me? Oh, that terrible, terrible sermon! She 
ran up-stairs, locked her door, and threw herself upon 
the lounge. 

Mary was right. The same words of the preacher 
which had stunned her had staggered her mother and 
Alice. Such was the power of the pulpit in those days. 
To both, as they stepped from the church-door into the 
street, the responsibility of combating the fulminations 
of their pastor seemed too heavy for their shoulders. 

But our plucky little Alice was only staggered, and 



412 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

soon rallied. She would not go to see Mary that even- 
ing, so she told me; next morning would be better. 

And so the shades of evening came, and the shades 
of evening deepened into night; and still she came not. 
Is it not enough that my mother should desert me ? 
The clock struck nine. No hope! There, the bell 
rang! A soft tap on her door; not Alice's merry rub- 
a-dub. A young slave and sister announced the cousin. 
Mary sprang to her feet: "I won't see him," she almost 
screamed ; " tell him that !" cried she, advancing upon 
her late pupil in Bun^^an's "Pilgrim's Progress" Avith 
looks so fierce and gestures so vehement as to drive 
her back in alarm upon the door which she had just 
entered with a smile. 

" Yes, ma'am, yes, ma'am," stammered the Pilgrim, 
fumbling over the door-knob in her confused effort to 
escape. " Yes, ma'am, I'll tell him," added she, cour- 
tesying herself out, and shutting the door softly behind 
her. 

"Hi!" half whispered, half thought she to herself, 
as she stood upon the landing, collecting her breath 
and her wits. "Hi, what de matter wid Miss Mary? 
Fore Gaud, I was afeard she was gwine to bite me, I 
was! What he done do, I wonder? Oh, I tell you. 
She done git tired o' him a-comin' round and a-comin' 
round, and f'reverlahstin' coughin', and coughin' and 
coughin', same like one o' dese here little fice-dogs what 
bark and bark and never tree nothin', dough he do 
drive off de oder varmints dat you mought cotch ; and 
DO gal don't like dat, be she Avhite or black. He's a 
nice gent'mun, I don't 'spute dat; but he are power- 
ful wizzened up, dat's a fac'. Howsomdever, I ain't got 
de heart to give him no sich message. A gent'mun is 
a gent'mun, for all dat, and I ain't had no sich raisin'. 
Nebberdeless, I ain't a-blamin' Miss Mary. She tired 
o' dat kind. Well, I likes 'em spry and sassy mj^self, 
I does, and I s'pose folks is folks, dough dey he diff'ent 
colors. Ahem ! Ahem !" 

She was nearing the parlor-door, and was clearing 
her throat for a polite paraphrase, when she saw the 
front door gently close. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 413 

He had heard, and was gone. 

Maiy never saw him again. When he died, about a 
year afterwards, she said that she had forgiven him; 
but I doubt if she knew her own heart. There are 
some things a woman can never pardon. 

Nor do I think that AHce has ever quite forgiven 
herself for her delay at this crisis. For she feels to 
this day, I suspect, that had she gone to see Mary that 
evening this story might have ended like a fairy-tale, 
with everybody happy, just as it fares in real life. But 
she waited till next morning. 

And she awoke with the first twittering salutations 
of the birds to the dawn ; the dawn of a lovely April 
day. She too (for she was young and happy) saluted 
A.urora; but with a sleepy smile; and readjusting the 
pillow to her fair head, dozed off again ; dozed off 
again, just as her friend across the way, exhausted 
with pacing her room, had thrown herself, all dressed 
as she was, upon her bed. Her mother, stealing softly 
in, found her lying there, shortly afterwards, pale, hag- 
gard, breathing hard, her features bearing, even while 
she slept, traces of the struggle through which she had 
passed. And every now and then her overwrought 
frame shook with a quick nervous tremor. Her mother 
wrung her hands in silence, and turned to leave the 
room. 

There was a letter, sealed and addressed, lying upon 
the table at which her daughter wrote ; while all about 
her chair lay fragments of other letters, begun, but 
torn in pieces, and thrown upon the floor, though a 
basket stood near at hand. " This will not do," thought 
her mother. " She must tell me what is in that letter 
before she mails it. We must look into this matter, 
carefull}-, before any irrevocable step be taken. Shall 
I take possession of it now ? ]^o, I will speak to her 
after breakfast. Poor child! Poor child!" And she 
stole out on tiptoe. 

This was not the first time that Mrs. Eolfe had vis- 
ited her daughter that night. At two o'clock in the 
morning, detecting the sound of footsteps in Mary's 
room, she had gone up-stairs and found her pacing her 

35* 



414 THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 

room. She had entreated her to go to bed, — begged 
her to compose herself, — had pressed her daughter to 
her heart and wept upon her shoulder and bidden her 
good-night. Mary, hearing her inother coming, had 
hoped for a word of encouragement. But Mrs. Rolfe 
had not dared to giv^e it, with the words of the preacher 
still resounding in her ears. 

" It is all over, then," she thought, when her mother 
closed the door; and seizing her pen, began to write. 
Wrote letter after letter, each in a different vein ; each 
to be torn in pieces in turn. At last she wrote one 
which was barely two pages long. As she folded the 
letter there fell upon it a big tear, which she quickly 
dried with her handkerchief. 

That tear-stain, poor child, had you left it there, — 
but it was not to be. 

Another fell upon the address, blotting it. She got 
another envelope. This time, as she wrote the address, 
she averted her head. The hot tears fell upon the table. 

That would tell no tales. 

Her mother had seen the letter lying there, and was 
startled. She would talk to her daughter after break- 
fast. 

After breakfast. That was Alice's plan, too, you 
remember. 

Mr. Rolfe, that man of peace, had slept through all 
the turmoil of the night. " Where is Mary ?" asked 
he, as he seated himself at table, next morning; a 
question which evoked two simultaneous, though diver- 
gent replies : one from Mrs. Kolfe that Mary was rather 
indisposed, and would hardly be down to breakfast ; the 
other from the Pilgrim, to the effect that her young mis- 
tress had gone out, betimes, for a walk. " D'j^ar she is 
now," she added, as Mary's footsteps were heard in the 
front hall. 

Mr. Eolfe greeted his daughter with a smile of bright 
benignity. He praised the roses in her cheeks. After 
all, there was nothing like fresh air and exercise. As 
she bent over him and kissed him with unusual affec- 
tion, he patted her cheek ; accompanying each tap with 
a sort of cooing little murmur, which was his way when 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 415 

she caressed him. He was deliirlited. He couldn't re- 
member when he had seen her so lijay. She must walk 
before breakfiast avary morning. What woidd she have ? 
1^0 doubt her walk had made her ravenous. No ? Yes, 
we all lose our appetites in spring. 

But her mother's eye saw no roses painted by the 
breath of morning, but a burning flush, rather; and 
when she took her daughter's hand in hers, it was icy 
cold. Her gaj^ety, too, which rejoiced her father's 
heart, made her mother's ache. 

Presently, and while our ])arty still lingered around 
the breakfast-table, Alice came tripping in, fresh and 
cheery, the very personification of that April which 
was abroad in the land. 

Alice was not long in detecting the hysteria which 
lurked beneath Mary's assumed joyousness. What 
had happened? An acute attack of curiosity, compli- 
cated with anxiety, seized upon her; and in less than 
a quarter of an hour she and Mary stood in the hall- 
w^ay across the street, exchanging a few words with 
Mrs. Carter. 

"Let us go up to my room," said Alice. 

''State secrets, I suppose," said Mrs. Carter. 

" Oh, of course." And the two girls tripped lightly 
up the stairs. 

" How jolly you are to-day, Mary," called out Mrs. 
Carter. 

" Oh," replied she from the first landing, " as merry 
as a lark. It's the bright spring weather, I suppose." 

" Well, that's right ; be happ}^ while the sun shines, 
1113^ child. The clouds will come soon enough." 

Ko sooner had the girls entered Alice's room than 
her face became serious. "Sit down in that chair," 
said she, in her quick, business-like manner. "And 
now," added she, drawing a seat close beside Mary, and 
taking her hand, "now tell me, — what is all this?" 

" I am happy, that's all." 

" Happy ?" 

"Yes, it is all over — and I am free — and so-o-o-o 
ha-ha-ha-happy !" And throwing herself on Alice's 
neck, she sobbed convulsively. 



416 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Alice stroked her friend's hair in silence, waiting till 
she should recover from this paroxysm of bliss. At 
last Mary began to speak. 

" It is all over," she sobbed. "It was more than my 
strenorth could bear. After that sermon — " and she 

o 

shivered. 

"How all over?" 

"I have broken off the engagement." 

" How ? when ? where ?" 

" I wrote the letter last night." 

"Oh," said Alice, with a sigh of relief "Will you 
just be so kind as to let me have that letter?" added 
she, reaching out her hand. 

" It is already mailed." 

"Mailed!" shouted Alice, springing to her feet. 

"Yes. I took it to the post-office myself before 
breakfast." 



CHAPTEE LXY. 



In those days, before the mail-delivery system had 
been introduced, we had to send to the post-office for 
our letters. 

If we were in love, we went in person, of course. 

" Where are you going ?" called out Alice across the 
street. 

Mary came over to her. " I am going to the post- 
office," said she, in a low voice. 

"I will go part of the way with you," said Alice. 

The two girls walked on for a little while in silence. 

"Mary," said Alice, presently, "tell me, — what do 
you expect him to say?" 

" Don't ask me that," she said, with a shiver. 

" I think I can tell you. Your letter, as you quoted 
it to me, severed all relations between you. But have 
you not a kind of dim, unacknowledged hope that he 
will recant his heresies and bridge the chasm between 
you ?" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 417 

Mary walked on in silence. 

" It is natural that you should nourish such a hope. 
But suppose it should prove delusive?" 

" The die is east. I must abide the issue. And, Alice, 
— though you think I have been hasty, — I feel a ^Dro- 
found conviction that it is best as it is." 

" Well, good-by ! Be brave." And more than once, 
as she hastened homeward, Alice passed her hand across 
her eyes. 

Mary stood before the little square window at the 
post-office. 

"Any letters?" 

The clerk knew who she was, and the sight of her 
pretty, pale face lent a certain alacrity to his calm, 
official legs. Briskly diving into her father's box, he 
handed her half a dozen letters. As she passed them 
nervously between thumb and finger, glancing at the 
addresses, he held his steady, postmasterish eye upon 
her. What else had he to do? Could not that other 
woman who stood there, could not she wait ? Was 
not her nose red ; and her chin, was not her chin (by a 
mysterious dispensation of Providence) bumpy? Let 
her stand there, then, craning her anatomical neck to 
catch his stony gaze. Let her wait till pretty little 
Miss Eolfe sorts her letters. Ah, that's the one she 
hoped to get, — that with the distinct, yet bold and 
jagged address, that I have noticed so often. Ah, 
that's the one — AYhat name, madam? Adkins? Miss 
Elizabeth Ann ? One for Miss Elizabeth Adkins. Beg 
your pardon, — five cents due, Miss Adkins. 

My reader, be pretty. Let me entreat you — be 
pretty, if you can in anywise compass it. If not, be 
good. Even that is better than nothing. It will be a 
comfort to you in your declining years. 

And your little nephews and nieces will rise up, some 
day, and call you blessed. 

" Will you be so kind as to put these back in the 
box ?" 

The clerk bowed with a gracious smile ; and Mary, 
placing three or four letters in her pocket, left the 
building, and turned in the direction of the Capitol 
bb 



418 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Square. She passed in through the first gate, and hur- 
ried along the gravel path. By the time she had 
reached the first seat she had grown so weak that she 
was glad to throw herself upon it. 

Had Mary had her eyes about her, she would have 
been struck with the unwonted aspect of the Square. 
Our pretty little park, usually the resort of merry 
children, wore, on this particular day, a rather serious 
look. Men, in earnest conversation, stood about in 
groups. Others hurried past, without even giving her 
pretty face the tribute of a glance. But she saw noth- 
ing, heeded nothing; not even the dark, gathering 
throng which crowned the summit of the green slope 
in front of the Capitol; though it was not a stone's 
throw from w^here she sat. 

She drew her letters from her pocket, placing the 
one with the jagged address quickly beneath the others. 
She tore open an envelope and began to read. The 
letter was from a former schoolmate, — a bright girl, 
but its cleverness gave Mary no pleasure now, but 
seemed frivolity, rather; and as for the cordial invita- 
tion (on the eighth page), before she got to that she 
had thrust the letter back into its cover. She gave but 
a glance at the contents of the next. The third made 
her forget herself, for an instant. It was a large, busi- 
ness-looking envelope, stamped New York ; and she 
gave a quick little start, when, upon opening it, a 
cheque fluttered down before her feet. As she read 
the accompanj'ing letter, a sudden flash of joyful sur- 
prise illumined her face when she found that her article 
(mailed with many misgivings two months ago, and 
long since forgotten) had been accepted. A sudden 
flash of joyous surprise, followed by quick gathering 
clouds; for, as she stooped to pick up the cheque, a 
fourth letter slid from her lap and fell upon it. The 
characteristic hand in which it was addressed she had 
often admired ; it was so firm and bold. Was it her 
imagination that transformed it now ? Was it changed ? 
Was it more than firm now, and had its boldness be- 
come ferocity? A sudden revulsion came over Mary; 
and upon the words of the publishers — words of com- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 419 

mendation and encouragement, which, a fortnight since, 
would have filled her 3'oung heart with exultation, — 
for would not he be proud ? — more than one big tear fell. 

But that fourth letter remained unread. She held it 
in her hand, as one does a telegram, sometimes, dread- 
ing to open it. 

Her own to him had been brief and to the point; 
giving him to understand that their engagement was at 
an end, without betraying the fact that her heart, too, 
was broken. She had even dried the tears that fell 
upon the paper, you remember. She had begged his 
pardon, of course, but had purposel}' excluded from her 
language all traces of feeling. As the thing had to be 
done, it should be done effectually. 

What would he do? What would he say? A thou- 
sand possibilities had been dancing through Mary's 
mind. 

First and foremost, would he recant ? 

Inconceivable! Still, this hope refused to vanish. 

Would he be violent? AVould his reply be a bui-st 
of fierce indignation ? Very likely. Yes, that was 
just what one might expect from such a man. 

Would he be sarcastic? Will he sneer at a re- 
ligion which can make me break my word ? That was 
what she dreaded most of all. Not, oh male reader 
(if I shall have an}' such), not lest his flings and gibes 
should wound her. If you think that, sir, you have 
never penetrated into the mj'steries of the female heart. 
It was a dread lest he — lest HE should descend to 
such weapons, — lest this soaring eagle of her imagina- 
tion should stoop to be a mousing owl. A Hero may 
not use poisoned arrows ; least of all against a woman. 
She had never known the Don to use a sarcastic word. 
He was too earnest, too fearfully earnest to be satirical. 
He left that to triflers, male and female. He was never 
witty, even. He is above it, Mary used to say, within 
her heart, with that blessed alchemy whereby women 
know how to convert into virtues the blemishes of 
those whom they love. No, thought she ; let him up- 
l)raid me ; let him tell me that I have been false to my 
word ; let him even say that I have proven m^'self un- 



420 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

worthy to link my destiny with his (and am I worthy 
of the homage of such a heart ? Did not even unsenti- 
mental Alice say that a true woman would follow the 
•man she loved to the ends of the earth ?) ; no ; let him 
cover me with fierce reproaches, — but let him not be 
little! It is enough, and more than enough, that I 
have to give him up. Let his image remain untarnished 
in my heart ! 

Or, would his letter be a broken-hearted wail ? She 
hoped not, — so she said, at least ; and let us try to be- 
lieve her. 

Pressing her hand upon her heart for a moment, to 
calm its tumultuous throbbing, she broke the seal of 
the letter, took in the first page at one mad, ravenous 
glance, and the hand that held the sheet fell upon her 
lap. 

No sarcasms, no fierce reproaches, no wail of a 
broken heart! — no anything that she had thought 
possible. 

Brief, yet not curt, he accepted her decree without a 
murmur; as though a prisoner bowed in silence under 
the sentence of the judge. No commonplace, no 
rhetoric; no trace of feeling; and yet no flippant sug- 
gestion of the want of it. In a word, his letter was 
an absolutely impenetrable veil. As though he had 
not written. Mary was stunned. 

She had seen, as she drew the letter from the cn- 
veloj^e, that the top of the second page contained little 
more than the signature. She had not strength, just 
yet, to read the dozen concluding words. She leaned 
back upon the bench, resting her poor, dizzy head upon 
her hand. She heard nothing, saw nothing. Yet there 
was something to see and something to hear. 

The craunching of many feet upon the gravel walk, 
— the feet of strong, earnest men. And every now and 
then women passed, with faces pale but resolute. And 
here, close beside her, a mob of boys, with eager eyes, 
sweep across the greensward, unmindful of the injunc- 
tion to keep off the grass. Movement everywhere. 
The very air of the peaceful little park seemed to 
palpitate. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 421 

Then a sudden hush ! 

She turned the page and read, — 

" It is not probable that we shall ever meet again, 
and I therefore bid you an eternal farewell." 

A shiver ran through her frame. A moment after- 
wards she leaped from her seat with a piercing shriek ; 
for almost at the very instant that those cruel words 
froze her heart a terrific sound smote upon her ear. 

A few feet from where she sat the fierce throats of 
cannon proclaimed to the city and the world that old 
Virginia was no longer one of the United States of 
America. 



CHAPTER LXYI. 



Four years have passed since our story opened, and 
the autumn of 1864 is upon us. For more than three 
3'ears Yirginia has been devastated by war. Most of 
Leicester's pleasant homes have been broken up. My 
grandfather, however, trusting to his gray hairs, had 
remained at Elmington. The Poythresses were re- 
fugees in Richmond. Charley, who w^as now a major, 
commanding a battalion of artillery in the army defend- 
ing Richmond, had, two months before, been taken in an 
ambulance-wagon to Mr. Carter's. A bullet had passed 
through his body, but he was now convalescent. Any 
bright morning you might see him sunning himself in 
the garden. The house was crowded to overflowing with 
refugee relatives and friends from the invaded districts. 

And illumined by a baby. 

" He was born the very day I was wounded," said 
Charley. " I remember how anxious I was to see him 
before I died." 

" I knew you wouldn't die," said Alice ; '' and you 
didn't!" 

" I am here," said Charley. 

So, fair reader, Charley, in the last week of Sep- 
tember, 1864, was a father two months old. As for 
the baby (and I hereby set the fashion of introducing 



422 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

one or more into every romance*), his mother had 
already discovered whom he was like. He was a 
Carter, every inch of him, especially his nose. But he 
had his father's sense of humor, — there was not the 
slightest doubt of that. For when Charley, who, in 
speaking to the infant, alwaj'S alhided to himself in 
those words, — when Charley, chucking him gingerty 
under the chin, would ask him what he thought of his 
venerable p-p-p-p-pop, he could be seen to smile, with 
the naked eye. To smile that jerky, sudden-spreading, 
sudden-shrinking smile of babyhood. You see it, — 'tis 
gone! Ah, can it be that even then we dimly discern 
how serious a world this is to be born into! 

Major Frobisher's battalion was in front of Eich- 
mond. The Don and I were under General Jubal 
Earl 3^, in the lower valley, — he a captain in command 
of the skirmishers of the Stonewall Division, 1 a staff- 
officer of the same rank. 

I know nothing which makes one's morning paper 
more interesting tlian the news of a great battle. It's 
nice to read, between sips of coffee, how the grape and 
canister mowed 'em down ; and the flashing of sabres 
is most picturesque, and bayonets glitter delightfully, 
in the columns of a well-printed journal. Taking a 
hand in it — that's different. Then the bodily discom- 
fort and mental inanition of camp-life. Thinking is 
impossible. This, perhaps, does not bear hard upon 
professionals, with whom, for the most part, abstention 
from all forms of thought is normal and persistent ; but 
to a civilian, accustomed to give his faculties daily ex- 
ercise, the routine-life of a soldier is an artesian bore. 
So, at least, I found it. No doubt, with us, the ever- 
present consciousness that we were enormously out- 
numbered made a difference. One boy, attacked by 
three or four, may be plucky. It is rather too much 
to expect him to be gay. I was not gay. 

It was different with our friend, Captain Smith. He 
was one of the half-dozen men I knew in those da3'8 
who actually rejoiced in war. He longed for death^ 

* Is this the language of a bachelor ? — Ed. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 423 

my lovely and romantic reader is anxious to be told ; 
but I am sorry I cannot give her any proofs of this. It 
was Attila's gaudium ceriaminis that inspired him. He 
Avas never tired of talking of war, which, with Hobbes, 
he held to be the natural state of man. At any rate, 
said he, one day, drawing forth his Iliad and tapping 
it affectionately, they have been hard at it some time. 

This little volume was on its last legs. He had 
read it to pieces, and could recite page after page of it 
in the original. How closelj', he would say, we skir- 
mishers resemble the forefighters of Homer. He never 
Bpoke of his own men save as M3^rmidons. 

He had become an ardent student, too, of the art of 
war, and had Dumont and Jomini at his fingers' ends. 
Indeed, I am convinced that he would have risen to 
high rank had he not begun, and for two years re- 
mained, a private in the ranks. At the time of which 
we speak, his capacity and courage were beginning to at- 
tract attention ; and more than one general officer looked 
upon Captain Smith as a man destined to rise high. 

It remains for me to say that he and Mary have 
never met since that farewell letter. What his feelings 
are towards her I can only conjecture ; for, although 
he frequently speaks of the old times, her name never 
passes his lips. An analytical writer could tell you 
every thought that had crossed his mind during all 
these years, and, in twenty pages of Insight, work him 
up, hj slow degrees, from a state of tranquil bliss to 
one of tumultuous jimjams. But, if you wish to know 
what my characters feel and think, you must listen to 
what they say, and see what they do; which I find is 
the only way I have of judging of people in real life. 
I should say, therefore (for guessing is inexpensive), 
that the captain's lips were sealed, either by deep, sor- 
rowing love, or else by implacable resentment. Choose 
for yourself, fair reader. I told you, long ago, that this 
book is but the record of things seen or heard by Charley, 
or by Alice, supplemented occasionally by facts which 
chanced to fall under mj own observation. Even where 
I seemed to play analytical, through those weary chap- 
ters touching Mary's religious misgivings, I was not 



424 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

swerving from the line I had laid down. Every word 
therein written down is from the lips of Mary herself, 
as reported to me by Alice. Now, Charley tells me 
that never once did Captain Smith mention Mary's 
name, even to him. How, then, am I to know what 
were his feelings towards her? I remember, indeed, 
that once a 3^oung lieutenant of his, returning from 
furlough, greeted him with warmth ; adding, almost 
with his first breath, that he had met a friend of his — a 
lady — in Kichmond, — MissRolfe — Leigh Street — 1 spent 
an evening there — we talked a great deal of j^ou — 

The captain touched the visor of his cap. 

Here was a chance of finding out what he thought I 

" She said she — she said she — " 

The young fellow had met a siren during his fur- 
lough, and fallen horribly in love himself (as he told 
me, a few moments afterwards, in a burst of confidence), 
and would willingly have invented a tender phrase for 
the consolation of his captain, whom he adored ; but 
truth forbade. 

" She said she was glad to hear you were well." 

" Miss Eolfe is very kind," replied the captain, again 
touching his cap. 

The young officer glanced at his chief, and instantly 
fell back upon the weather. " I think there is a storm 
brewing," he faltered. 

" Very likely," replied the captain of the Myrmidons. 



CHAPTER LXYIL 

[letter from captain .JOHN SMITH TO MAJOR CHARLES 
FROBISHER.] 

Fisher's Hill, September 21, 1864. 

My dear Charley: 

Many thanks to your dear wife for the frequent bul- 
letins she has found time to send me in the intervals 
of nursing you, getting well herself, and worshipping 
King Charles II. Have you agreed upon a name yet ? 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 425 

Or, rather, has Alice settled upon one? For I am told 
women claim the right of naming the first. 

Old boy, when I heard that a bullet had gone clean 
through you I thought I had seen the last of you ; 
and here you are on your pins again ! A far slighter 
wound would have sufficed to make "darkness veil the 
eyes" of the stoutest of Homer's heroes. What pin- 
scratches used to send them to Hades! 

And now, Patroklus, I will tell you why I refused, 
at the opening of the war, to enter the same company 
of artillery with 3'ou. Your feelings were wounded at 
the time, and I wanted to tell 3'ou whj^ I was so obsti- 
nate, but could not. To confess the honest truth, I had 
not the pluck to place myself where I might have to 
see you die before my eyes. It would have been differ- 
ent were we warring around Troy. There, I could 
have helped you, on a pinch, and you me. But these 
winged messengers of death, who can Avard them off, 
even from the dearest friend ! 

I had a cruel trial in last week's battle. When it 
became necessary to order Edmund's company to ad- 
vance, my heart sank within me. [Edmund was Mr. 
Poythress's youngest child, a lad of barely sixteen sum- 
mers, who had chafed and pined till he had wrung from 
his mother a tearful consent to his joining the army.] 
" If I do not come back," he whispered in my ear, 
" tell mother that her ' baby' was man enough to do his 
duty, — for I am going to do it." " Your company is 
moving," I replied, in as stern a voice as I could mus- 
ter ; for I felt a rush of tears coming ; and he bounded 
into his place. I have seen fair women in my day, and 
lovely landscapes, and noble chargers ; but never have 
my eyes beheld anything so surpassingly beautiful as 
that ingenuous boy springing forward, under a rain 
of bullets, with a farewell to his mother on his lips, and 
the light of battle on his brow. I held my breath till 
he disappeared within the wood. Why is it that we all 
shudder at the dangers of those we love, and 3'et can 
be calm when our own lives hang by a thread ? Is it 
not because, while Ave know that the loss of a true 
friend is one never to be repaired, and which casts a 

36* 



426 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

shadow upon our lives that can never be lifted [Charley- 
keeps this letter, with another little note, which you 
will read later on, in a blue satin case, that Alice has 
embroidered with forget-rae-nots. He showed it to mo 
on the nineteenth of last October. The satin is all 
faded (and spotted, here and there) bat time has not 
dulled the colors of the flowers], there is a profound, 
though veiled conviction, deep down in the heart of 
hearts of all of us, that, as for ourselves, it were better 
w^ere we at rest? It seems to me that it is only the 
instinctive fear of death, which we share Avith the 
lower animals, and that conscience which makes brave 
men, not cowards of us all, that nerves such of us as 
have the cruel gift of thought to bear up to the end, 
against the slings and arrows of the most favored life, 
even. But it is a shame that I should write thus to a 
man with a brand-new bab}^ ! 

I cannot picture to myself Alice as a mother; 
though, thanks to her graphic pen, I have a very clear 
conception of you as pater familias. I have laughed 
till 1 cried over her accounts of you sunning the 
youngster in the garden while the nurse was at her 
dinnerj and the way 3'ou held him, and the extraor- 
dinary observations you see fit to make to him. I 
can't blame him for smiling. The andante in Mozart's 
D minor quartet is very beautiful; but never did I ex- 
pect to hear of Charles Frobisher extemporizing words 
to it as a lullaby, while he rocked his infant to sleep ! 

But it is time I gave you some account of our late 
disastrous battle at Winchester. In order to under- 
stand it, you must have before your mind a picture of 
the region in which it was fought. 

The valley of Virginia is a narrow- ribbon of land, as 
it were, stretching diagonally across the State, between 
the Blue Eidge and Alleghany Mountains. As its 
fertility attracted settlers at an early date, its forests 
have raostlj' fallen years ago. This is especially true 
of the region around Winchester, which is situated in 
the midst of a broad, fertile plain, broken b}^ rolling 
hills, crowned, here and there, by the fair remains of 
singularly noble forests. One would say, standing 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 427 

upon an eminence, and surveying the smiling land- 
scape, that this lovely plain was fashioned by the hand 
of the Creator as the abode of plenty and eternal peace. 
Yet a poet, remembering that it is not peace, but war 
that man loves, could not, in his dreams, picture to him- 
self a more beautiful battle-field. And if I have to fall, 
may it be on one of thy sunny slopes, valiant little 
Winchester; and may the last thing my eyes behold 
be the handkerchiefs waving from thy housetops. Such 
women are worth d3'ing, yes, even worth living for. 

Observe, therefore, that the plains of Winchester are 
admirably adapted for the rapid and intelligent ma- 
noeuvring of large masses of troops. Artillery, infan- 
try, cavalry, — every arm of the service may move in 
any direction with perfect facility. And I need not 
tell an old soldier that such a field gives overwhelming 
advantage to a greatly superior force. When a gen- 
eral, as his troops advance to the attack, can see just 
where the enemy are, and how far they extend, — can 
see their reserves hurrying forward, and knows that 
when the}^ are all hotly engaged he can push heavy 
masses of fresh troops around both flanks, and attack 
in the rear men who are already outnumbered in front, 
what can save the weaker army from annihilation? 
And yet, on the nineteenth of this month, Early's little 
army of ten thousand troops withstood, in front of 
Winchester, in the open field, without breastworks, 
from dawn till late in the afternoon, the assaults of 
forty thousand of the enemy. ^Note. — This is an error 
on the part of the captain, but I retain his statement 
of the numbers engaged, just as he gives them, simply 
to show what was the universal belief of our soldiers 
at the time, — that they were outnumbered four to one. 
The true figures show that Early had fifteen thousand, 
Sheridan forty-five thousand men, — or only three to 
one. J. B. W.'\ * How a solitary man of us escaped I 
shall never be able to understand. 

Possibly you have not seen in the papers that on the 



* See Geo. A. Pond's " Shenandoah Valley Campaigns," if more minute 
accuracy is desired. — Ed, 



428 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

seventeenth Early sent our division down the valley to 
Martinsburg (twenty-two miles) to make a reconnois- 
sance. We did a little skirmishing there, and on the 
next day encamped, on our return, at a place called 
Bunker's Hill, — named, I presume, in honor of the 
Bunker's Hill on which Boston, with a magnanimity 
unparalleled in history, has erected an imposing monu- 
ment to commemorate the gallant storming of Breed's 
Hill by the British. Here we lay down to rest. I 
will not say to sleep ; for never, since the beginning of 
the war, had I felt so profoundly anxious. Picture to 
yourself our situation. 

There we were, twelve miles down the valley, twenty- 
five hundred men ; while, near Berryville, over against 
our main body of about eight thousand men at Win- 
chester, lay an army forty thousand strong. Suppose 
Sheridan should attack in our absence? True, Early 
had marched over to Berryville, a few days before, and 
offered him battle in vain. But suppose he did attack? 
Could he not in an hour's time (for forty thousand 
against eight is rather too much) drive Early's force 
pell-mell across the pike, and, with his immense force 
of cavahy, capture the last man he had? And then we 
would have nothing to do but march up the valley, like 
a covey of partridges, into a net. 

Such were the thoughts which flashed across my 
mind, with painful intensity, at dawn next morning. 
Weary with anxious thinking, I had fallen to sleep at 
last. The boom of a cannon swept down from Win- 
chester. We are lost, was ray first thought. Our 
army Avill be annihilated. Sheridan will set out on his 
march to the rear of Eichmond to-morrow morning. 

I rose without a word, as did others around me, and 
completed my toilet by buckling on my sword and 
pistols. There, on my blanket, lay Edmund, sleeping 
the sweet, deep sleep of boyhood. I could hardly 
make up my mind to arouse him. " Get up," said I, 
touching his shoulder ; " they are fighting at Win- 
chester." "They are!" cried he, leaping to his feet. 
The gaudium ceriaminis was in his eyes. The boy is 
every inch a soldier. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 429 

"VYe hurried up the turnpike without thinking of 
breakfast, the roar of the battle growing louder as 
we advanced. Edmund chattered the whole way, 
asking me, again and again, whether I thought it 
would be all over before we got there. He had not 
yet been in a battle, and was full of eager courage. I 
told him I thought he would have a chance at them, 
though I actually thought that all would be over before 
we reached the ground. And what do you suppose we 
learned as we neared the field ? That Eamseur, with 
his twelve hundred men covering our front with hardly 
more than a skirmish line, had held in check the heavy 
masses of the enemy all this time ! They had been at- 
tacked at dawn ; we had marched twelve miles ; and 
there they were still, Eamseur and his heroic little 
band of North Carolinians. And I single out the North 
Carolinians by name, not so much because of their cour- 
age, as of their modestj^. 

Well, we were beaten that da}^, and badly beaten. 
That we were not annihilated is what I cannot com- 
prehend. And why we are allowed to rest here and 
recuperate, with a vastly superior army, flushed with 
victory, in our front, is equallj^ difficult to understand. 
Why were we not attacked at dawn next day ? Yet, 
that he has not done so does not surprise me, after 
what I saw of his generalship at the close of the late 
battle. Put 3'ourself beside me, and see what I saw on 
the afternoon of September 19th. 

We are standing on an open hill, just in rear of where 
our troops have fought so stubbornly the livelong dnj. 
Where is our army ? It no longer exists. It has been 
hammered to pieces. Here and there you see a man 
slowly retiring, and loading his rifle as he falls back. 
Every now and then he turns and fires. One here, and 
one there, — this is all the army we have. 

Now look over there, at that field, to the left of the 
position lately held by us. Those are the enemy's 
skirmishers, advancing from a wood. Their long line 
stretches far away, and is lost to view behind that rise 
in the hill. At whom are they firing? Heaven knows, 
for there is no enemy in their front. And now the 



430 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

dense masses of their infantry appear, in rear of the 
skirmishers, and glide slowly across the hill, like the 
shadow of a black cloud. Come, Edmund, cheer up, 
and have a crack at them. (The boy is standing apart, 
his powder-begrimed face streaked with decorous tears.) 
Set your sight at six hundred 3'ards. Come here, and 
let me give 3'ou a rest on my hip. Yes, the man with 
the flag. Ah, you have made a stir among them. The 
line moves on, but one man lies stretched upon the field, 
with two others kneeling beside him. There is the 
making of a sharpshooter in the boy !• 

And what ponderous form is this that comes towards 
us, limping and disconsolate? 'Tis our friend Jack. 
He, 1 need hardly tell you, ***** 

***** ***** 

But he lost heart when his powerful charger fell be- 
neath him, disembowelled by a cannon-ball. Poor 
Bucephalus! He had carried him through twenty 
battles as though he were a feather; and where was 
he to find another horse that could carry him at all ! 
(Edmund tells a good story of Jack. He says that 
while he stood lamenting the death of his valiant steed, 
one of our advancing brigades, first staggering under 
the heavy fire, then halting, were beginning to give 
way. "Boys," cried Jack (he will have his joke), 
" boys, follow me! If they can't hit me, they can't hit 
anybody!" Edmund saj'S that some of the soldiers 
laughed; and that as they followed the burly captain 
he heard one of them say to his neighbor, "Mind now; 
if they do hit him, I claim his breeches as a winter- 
quarters tent.") 

Look, now, at those dark masses, halted in full view 
on that rising ground to our right. They are as near 
Winchester as we are. What are they doing there? 
Surely they can see that there are no troops between 
themselves and the town ! Why do they not go and 
take it ? Can it be their advance has been checked b}^ 
the stray shots of a score of retreating sharpshooters ? 

Now turn and look a mile away, to our left. See 
that dense cloud of dust, lit up with the flashing of 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 431 

carbine-shots, the gleaming of sabres, and the glare of 
bursting shells I There, along the pike, our handful 
of cavalry, struggling bravely with overwhelming odds, 
is falling back upon the town. Come, Edmund, there 
is no use staying here any longer. Yes, I. think they 
will get there before us. Pluck up j'our spirits, my 
boy; a true soldier shows best in adversity. 

I have not tried, my dear Charle}^, to give you a mili- 
tary account of this battle. I have striven, instead, to 
lay before you a picture of the field as it appeared when 
Edmund, Jack, and 1 sadly turned towards Winchester. 
It was then the middle of the afternoon. Would you 
believe that we reached the town in safety, — entered a 
house, whose fair inmates gave us bread (it was all — 
almost more than all they had), — retired, afterwards, 
up the pike, along which our soldiers straggled in twos 
and threes, — went into camp, — arose next morning, — 
and made our way to Fisher's Hill? And here we arc 
still, resting as quietly as though no enemy were in our 
front ! 

I have known men to leave the gaming-table, after 
a big run of luck, so as to spend their winnings before 
the tide turned. Perhaps our friends the enemy wish 
to enjoy their glory awhile before risking the loss of it 
in another battle ; but it isn't war. 

***** * ;}{*:Js^ 

Yours, ever, 

Dory. 



CHAPTER LXYIII. 

" Jack," said Alice, *' every time I read this letter of 
poor Dory's, I find it harder to understand how General 
Sheridan has so high a reputation in the North as a 
soldier. Can you explain it ?" 

"I cannot," I replied, thumping the table fiercely 
with my fist ; for every Whacker molecule in me stood 
on end. 

"I can," put in Charley, in his dry way. 



432 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

I turned and fixed my eyes on that philosopher. His 
were fixed upon the ceiling. His head rested upon the 
back of his chair, his legs (they are stoutish now) were 
stretched across another. 

" The dense you can !" for my sturdy Saxon atoms 
were in arms. 

Charley removed his solid limbs from the chair in 
front of him, with the effort and grunt of incipient obes- 
ity [incipient obesity indeed ! and from you ! whe-e-eio ! 
Alice'], and, walking up to the mantel-piece, rested both 
arms upon it at full length ; then, tilting his short pipe 
at an angle of forty-five degrees, he surveyed me with a 
smile of amiable derision. '' Yes, I can," said be, at last. 
And with each word the short pipe nodded conviction. 

"Do it, then," said I. 

"I will," said he. And diving down into his pocket, 
he drew forth a manuscript; and striking an attitude, 
and placing his glasses {eheii, fug aces, Postwne, Postame, 
lahiintur anni) upon his oi-atorical nose, he unfolded the 
paper. Clearing his throat: 

"HANNIBAL!" began he, in thunder-tones; then, 
dropping suddenly into his usual soft voice, and letting 
lall his right hand containing the paper to the level of 
his knee,—" this," he added, peering gravely at us over 
his spectacles, "is my Essay on Military Glory!" 

Alice made herself comfortable, and spread out her 
fan ; for laughing makes her warm nowadays. 

Had she any right to look for humor in an essay by 
her husband ? Look at her own chapter on the loves 
of Mary and the Don. A more sentimental perform- 
ance I never read. Show me a trace therein, if you 
can, of witt}^, sparkling Alice of the merry-glancing 
hazel eyes ! Look, for the matter of that, at this book 
of mine. Why, the other day, glancing over the proofs* 
of a certain chapter, and forgetting for the moment, as 
I read the printed page, that I had written it, would 
you believe it, my eyes filled with tears ? (And a big 
one rolled down so softly that I started when it struck 



* Mr. Whacker must mean that he intended " glancing over the proofs." 
^Ed. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 433 

the paper.) Is this, cried I, the jolly book that my 
friends expect of me? Alas, fair reader, fellow-pilgrim 
through this valley of shadows, 1 trust full many a 
sun-streak may fall across your path. As for me, — I 
can only sing the song that is given me. 



CHAPTER LXIX. 

[Being an Essay on Military Glory ; by Charles Frobisher, Esquire, 
M.A. (Univ. Va.),- late Major of Artillery C. S. A. 

Omnibun, mentis compotibua, skipiendum, utpote quod tinkerii molem 
NON VALEAT.] 

Charley shifted his manuscript to his left hand, and 
smoothing down the leaves with his right, and glancing 
at the paper, raised his eyes to mine. The tip of his 
forefinger, placed lightly against the tip of his nose, 
lent to that organ an air of rare subtlety. 

"A julep," he began, "differs from a thought in this: 
that while — " 

"A julep!" cried Alice; "why, just now you began 
with Hannibal." 

Charley stood for a moment, smiling, as he toyed 
with the leaves of his essay with the forefinger of his 
right hand. 

" True ; I had turned the thing upside down, and 
was reading it backwards. A julep," he began again, 
with an authoritative air — 

"What connection," interrupted Alice, "can there be 
between juleps and military men?" 

"Innocence," ejaculated Charley, raising his eyes to 
heaven, " thy name is Alice !" 

" Go on ; I shall not interrupt you again." 

"A julep differs from a thought in this: that while 
an average man goes to the bottom of the former, of 
the latter only philosophers can sound the depths." 
"With that he sat down. 

" Is that the end of your Essay on Military Glory ?" 
I asked. 

"No. That is the first round. I call for time. I 
T cc 37 



434 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

am exhausted by the vastness of the generalization." 
And leaning back in his chair, he closed his eyes with a 
sigh of profound lassitude. " My dear," said he, pres- 
ently, in a feeble whisper, — " my dear, don't you think 
this lecture would go off better were it illustrated ?" 

Alice looked puzzled for a moment, then rose with a 
bright laugh, and, making a pass at Charley (who 
minds Jack?) which he dodged, tripped briskly out of 
the room. 

"Charley," said I, "you are a boundless idiot!" 

"Too true; but there is method in my madness." 
which I found to be so when Alice (who could have 
Avished a more charming waitress ?) returned with the 
illustrations. 

Illustrations in the highest form of art; for they ap- 
pealed to the ear with the soft music of their jingle, the 
nostrils by their fragrance, the touch by their coldness, 
to the eye by the fascinating contrast of cracked ice 
and vivid green ; while the imagination, soaring above 
the regions of sense, beheld within those frosted gob- 
lets, jocund, blooming summer seated in the lap of 
rimy winter, — or the triumph of man over nature. 

Ole Yii-ginny nebber tire! 

" What kind of an idiot did you say?" said Charley, 
as we chinked glasses. 

"I couldn't find any straws," said Alice. 

"I accept your apology," said Charley. His voice 
sounded soft, mellow, and far away ; for his nose was 
plunged beneath a mass of crushed ice. "Straws," 
added he, growing magnanimous, " they are only fit to 
show which waj^ the wind blows." And Avith a mag- 
nificent sweep of his left hand he indicated his disdain 
for all possible atmospheric currents. " Ladies and 
gentlemen," added he, as he rose from his seat; and 
this time there was an indescribable jumble in the voice 
of the orator — (not at all, Mr. Teetotaller! 'twas caused 
by the cracked ice), — for as Charley rose to continue the 
reading of his Essay on Military G-lory, he had pointed 
the stem of his goblet at the ceiling; striving, at the 
same time, by a skilful adjustment of his features, to 
prevent its contents from falling on the floor, — such 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 435 

great store did Alice set by her new carpet. But, of 
course, when he opened his mouth to say ladies and 
gentlemen, a baby avalanche fell in upon his organs of 
speech; so that he didn't manage to say anything of 
the kind. " That," said he, placing the glass upon the 
table, " will do as a vignette; the illustrations we shall 
contrive to work in farther on." 

One julep gives Charley the swagger of a four-bottle 
man. 

" Where was I?" asked he, drawing the manuscript 
from his pocket. "I'll begin again. HANNIBAL! 
No, confound it! Ah, here we are: "An average man 
has strength to go to the bottom of a julep; on\j a 
philosopher can sound the depth of a thought." 

At these words Alice rose from her seat, and, leanin<>- 
forward, first fixed a scrutinizing glance upon her hus- 
band, then advanced towards him with a twinkle in 
her merry -glancing hazel eye. 

"If half the audience," said Charley, with an im- 
perious wave of the hand, " will persist in wandering 
over the floor, the reading is suspended.'' 

Alice took her seat, and did nothing but laugh till 
the end of the chapter. I laughed, too, but without 
exactly knowing why. But laughter (singularly enough, 
— for it is a blessing) is contagious. And then the 
julep bad been stiff; ^so that the very tables and chairs 
about the room seemed to beam upon me with a certain 
twinkling, kindly Bushwhackerishness.* 

"Here's a lot of stuff that I shall skip," began Char- 
ley; and he turned over, with careless finger^ leaf after 
leaf As he did so Alice rose slightly from her seat 
with a peering look. 

"Who is reading this Essay on Military Glory?" 
asked Charley, with a severe look at his wife over his 
glasses (alas, alas, nee pietas moramf). 

" Yery well; go on," said Alice, dropping back into 
her chair with a fresh burst of laughter. She had had 
no julep. What was she laughing^ at ? 



* I need hardly say that I decline to be responsible for such senti- 
ments. — Ed. 



436 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" It consists (my opening) of a series of illustrations, 
showing how much nonsense comes to be believed 
through people's not going to the bottom of things. We 
suppose ourselves to have an opinion (there is no com- 
moner delusion), but we fail to subject that opinion to 
any crucial test ; though nothing is easier. The crucial 
test, for example, of sulphuretted hydrogen, is a certain 
odor which we encounter, when, with incautious toe, 
we explode an ogg in some outlying nest which no 
boy could find during the summer — " 

" That will do," said Alice ; though why women 
should turn up their blessed little noses at such allu- 
sions is hard to understand, seeing what keen and tri- 
umphant pleasure they all derive from the detection of 
unparliamentary odors at unexpected times and places. 

" I have here," continued Charley, carelessly turning 
the leaves of his manuscript, " a nestful of such illus- 
trations." 

" We will excuse 3'ou from hatching them in our pres- 
ence," said Alice ; and w4th wrinkled nose she disdain- 
fully sniffed a suppositious egg of abandoned character. 

" I have alread}' passed them over. After all, what 
is the use of them ? You and Charley can understand 
what I mean without them ; and if you can, why not 
the reader, too ? Are readers idiots ? I'll plunge in 
medias res. Let us begin here :" (reading) " It is the same 
with military glory. How many battles have been 
fought since the world began ? Arithmetic stands pale 
in the presence of such a question ! In every one of 
these conflicts one or the other commander had the 
advantage. How many of them are famous? Count 
them. For every celebrated general that you show 
me, I will show you a finger — or a toe — " 

" You are too anatomical by half," protested Alice. 

" Why is this ? Think for a moment ? Why is this 
victor famous, that victor not ? It is the simplest thing 
in the world if you will but apply the crucial test." 

Charley paused in his reading and peered gravely 
over his glasses. " What is it, goose ?" asked his ad- 
miring spouse. 

" The crucial test is disparity of numbers. Formulae : 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



437 



equalitj^, victory, obscurity, — disparity, victory, glory. 
There you have it in a nutshell. Example (from Gib- 
bon's Decline and Fall of the Eoman Empire): imperator 
of the West and imperator of the East, battling, with 
the world as a stake. Innumerable but equal hosts. 
Days of hacking and hewing. Victory to him of the 
East (or West). Hisname? Have forgotten it. Equality, 
victory, obscurity ! 

" See ? By the wa}^, Jack, does not the brevity of my 
military style rather smack of Caesar's Commentaries? 

"Again — scene, Syria. Christians of the Byzantine 
empire, and Mahometans. Final struggle. Vast but 
equal armies. Three days of carnage. Eemnant of 
Christians decline crown of glory. Name of victor? 
I pause ? — and so on, and so on, and so on. 

" But now, per contra^ read, by the light of our 
hypothesis, the following : 

PARADIGM OF GLORY. 



Nominative 


Napoleon 


Italy disparity 


victory 


glory 


Genitive 


Caesar 


Pharsalia ditto 


ditto 


ditto 


Dative 


Alexander 


Persia ditto 


ditto 


ditto 


Accusative 


Zengis Khan 


Asia ditto 


ditto 


ditto 


Vocative 
Ablative 


Sheridan 
Hannibal—" 


Winchester ditto 


ditto 


ditto 



" Ah, you have gotten to him at last," said Alice. 

" Yes, my dear," said Charley, raising his eyes from 
the manuscript ; " but the vignettes grow dim. Let's 
have an illustration in honor of the victor of Cannae. 
Let there be lots of ice as a memorial of the avalanches 
he defied, piled raountairi-high because of the Alps he 
overcame. T^-pify with mint the glorious verdure of 
Italy as it first bursts upon his view." 

Alice typified — 



•" After all," said Charley, " this is a pretty good old 
world to live in." And he fillipped, gently, the rim of 
his goblet with his middle finger. (Ching! ching!) 

37* 



438 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"It was B flat when it was full, and now (ching! 
ching!) it is a good C sharp. Listen !" And shutting 
one ej^e, he cocked the other meditatively towards the 
ceiling. (Ching! ching!) "Acoustics or something, 
I suppose. A pretty good old world, I tell you, boys. 
(Ching! ching!) H'm ! h'm ! h'ra!" It was a low, 
contented chuckle. " Jack-Whack, you ought to have 
a sweet little darling of a wife, just like — " 
" Mr. Frobisher, you are positively boozy !" 
"Well, well, my precious little ducky dumpling, I 
don't write Essays on Military Grlory every day. H'm ! 
h'm ! h'm ! h'm ! I left out my very best illustration, 
simply because I couldn't work it into my paradigm. 
It is a little poem I heard once, — h'm ! h'm ! h'm ! h'm ! 
(Ching! ching!) 

* Dad and Jamie had a fight, 
They fit all day, and they fit all night ; 
And in the mornin' Dad was seen 
A-punchin' Jamie on the Bowlin' Green.' 

" One would say, taking the four lines together, that 
Dad probably got the better of Jamie in the end. But 
w^ho thinks of ranking him, for that reason, with the 
world's famed conquerors ? Preposterous ! They were 
obviously too evenly matched. See ? No one knows, 
even, who Dad was, or Jamie ; or what Bowlin' Green 
drank their gore. (Ching! ching!) D natural. Nor 
even the name of the poet. Some old, old Aryan myth, 
I suppose, symbolizing the struggle between Light and 
Darkness, — ' in the morning Dad' — the sun — ' was seen 
a-punchin' Jamie' — moon, of course — 'on the Bowlin' 
Green,' — that is, this beautiful world. (Ching! ching!) 
What are you up to V 

Alice had made a dive at Charley, who, mistaking 
her object, defended himself vigorously. Meantime, 
she had darted with her right hand down into his 
breast-pocket, drawing out the manuscript. 

" If you supposed I wished to kiss your juleppy 
moustache, you are much mistaken. This is what I 
wanted." And she brandished the Essay high in the 
air in triumph. "I knew it! I knew it!" cried she. 
"Listen, Jack!" 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 439 

" ' Baltimore, August 14, 1885. 

" ' Charles Frobisher, Esq. : 

" ' Dear Si?', — ' The giumo will be shipped by to-mor- 
row's boat, as per valued order. 

" ' Very truly yours, 

'"Bumpkins & Windup.' 

"And look here — and look here, — nothing but a lot 
of business letters. He has not written one line! His 
so-called Essay on Military Glory is a myth !" 

"We got the juleps, at any rate. Jack-Whack, you 
write it up." 

"If Alice will agree to illustrate again." 

"Not I!" 

"Q minor!" sighed Charley, thumping his empty 
goblet. "Jack-Whack, my poor boy, we dwell in a 
vale of tears!" 



CHAPTER LXX. 



It is eight o'clock in the morning, at Harrisonburg, 
in the leafy month of June. You board the train from 
Staunton. As it rushes down the Yalley there lies 
spread out before you, on either side, a scene of rare 
loveliness. Fertile plains, waving with grain ; rolling, 
grass-clad hills, laughing in the sunshine, dotted here 
and there with woods of singular beauty; limpid 
streams, brawling over glittering, many-hued pebbles; 
a pure air filling the lungs with a glad sense of health 
and well-being. There are few such lands. 

But come, take this seat on the right-hand side of 
the car, and 1 will tell you of some things which hap- 
pened twenty years ago. 

Ah, there it is! Don't you see that bluish thread, 
winding along over there, skirting that hill? That is 
the Yalley Pike. There was no railroad there then. 
Take a good look at it. Take a good look, for heroes 
have trodden it. 

Ah, the train has stopped. Do you sec that grizzled 



440 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

farmer, who has ridden over to the station to ^et his 
mail? I know him, for I never forget a fixce. He was 
there at Manassas when Bee said, "Look at Jackson, 
standing hke a stone wall!" Yes, many of the sur- 
vivors of the Stonewall Brigade live along this road. 

That is the Massanutten Mountain, a spar of the 
Blue Eidge. How beautiful it is! Straight and smooth 
and even, with a little notch every now and then ; 
clothed from base to summit with primeval forests, it 
looks, crested as it is here and there with snowy clouds, 
like a gigantic green wave rolling across the plain. 

A wall not unlike this once stood on either hand in 
the Eed Sea; and Miriam smote her tambourine in 
triumph, praising the God of Israel. 

As we rush along, the mountain bears us company, 
as though doing the honors of the Yalley. 

The train stops at Strasburg. There, too, Massa- 
nutten ends. 

As though a Titan had cleft it with his sword, so 
abruptly does it sink into the plain. 

You are on your way to Alexandria, and will have 
to wait here four hours ; so let us look about us. Eun 
your eye up that sharp acclivity lying over against the 
town. 

Upon the brink of that steep, twenty years ago, 
stood Gordon. Accompanied by a few staff-officers, "he 
had spent the greater part of the day in the toilsome 
ascent, tearing his way through dense, pathless jungles, 
struggling among untrodden rocks ; and now, on the 
seventeenth of October, 1864, he stands there sweeping 
the plain with his field-glass. What does he see? Why 
does he forget, in an instant, his fatigue? What is it 
that fires with ardor his m.artial face? 

But before I tell you that, a word with you. 

In the South, at the breaking out of the war, there 
was not to be found one solitary statesman ; nor one 
throughout the length and breadth of the North. Not 
that capacity was lacking to either side. Great capacity 
is not required. Chesterfield heard the rumble of the 
coming French revolution, to which the ears of Burke 
were deaf After all, statecraft is but the application 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 441 

of temporary expedients to temporary emergencies; 
and 3'ou might carve a score of Gladstones and Dis- 
raelis out of the brain of Herbert Spencer without in 
the least impairing his cerebrum. Pericles shone in 
Athens for an hour; Aristotle dominated the world for 
twenty centuries. Such is the measure of a states- 
man ; such that of a thinker. 

Statesmen, therefore (or the making of such), we 
had, I must suppose, by the thousand. I have said 
they were not to be found. 

For years before we came to blows the animosity 
between T^orth and South had been deepening, reach- 
ing at last this point, that he who would catch the ear 
of either side could do so only by fierce denunciation 
of the other; he that would have it thought that he 
loved us had only to show that he hated you. Men of 
moderation found no hearers. The voices of the calm 
and clear-headed sank into silence; and AYigfall and 
Toombs, and Sumner and Phillips walked up and down 
in the land. 

Yes, no doubt we had thousands of statesmen who 
knew better. But who knew them? And so Seward 
kept piping of peace in ninety days, and Yancey — 
Polyphemus of politicians — was willing to drink all 
the blood that would be shed. A Yankee wouldn't 
fight, said the one. The slave-drivers, perhaps, would, 
said the other ; but they were, after all, a mere handful ; 
and the poor white trash would be as flocks of sheep. 

A Yankee wouldn't fight! And why not, pray? 
Two bulls will, meeting in a path ; two dogs, over a 
bone. The fishes of the sea fight; the birds of the air; 
nay, do not even the little midgets, w^armed by the 
slanting rays of the summer's sun, rend one another 
with infinitesimal tooth and microscopic nail? All 
nature is but one vast battle-field ; and if the nations 
of men seem at times to be at peace, what is that peace 
but taking breath for another grapple? And con- 
gresses and kings are but bottle-holders, and time will 
be called in due season. The Yankees wouldn't fight ! 
And suppose they w^ouldn't, why should they, pray, 
being sensible men ? 



442 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Where was the Almic^hty Dollar? 

Had any one of the Southern leaders read one page 
of history, not to know that money means men? means 
cannon, rifles, sabres? means ships, and commissariat, 
and clothing? means rallying from reverses, and vic- 
tory in the end ? The Yankee would not fight, they 
told us. His omnipotent ally they forgot to mention 
or to meet. Had our Congress consisted of bankers, 
merchants, railway superintendents, they would have 
seen to the gathering of the sinews of war. We had 
only the statesmen of the period, — God save the 
mark ! 

It was in finance that we blundered fatally. 'Twas 
not the eagle of the orator that overcame us, but the 
effigy thereof, in silver and in gold. 

When we fired on Fort Sumter there was a burst of 
patriotism throughout the North, and her young men 
flocked to her standards. They fought, and fought 
well. The difl'erence between them and us was, that 
when they got tired of poor fare and hard knocks they 
could find others to take their places. Being sensible, 
practical men, they used their opportunities. When a 
man was drafted (as the war went on) he or his friends 
found the means of hiring a substitute (persons who 
have visited the North since the war tell me that you 
rarely find a man of means who served in the army); 
and at last cities and counties and States began to 
meet each successive call for fresh troops by votes of 
money ; their magnificent bounty system grew up, and 
from that time the composition of the Northern armies 
rapidly changed. Trained soldiers from every part of 
the world flocked to the El Dorado of the West ; and 
as the war went on each successive battle brought less 
and less grief to the hearts and homes of the North, 
while with us — with us! 

From every corner of Europe they poured. 

From Italy, from Sweden, from Eussia, and from 
Spain. 

From the Danube and the Loire; from the marshy 
borders of the Elbe and the sunny slopes of the 
Guadalquivir. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 443 

From the Alps and the Balkan. From the home of 
the reindeer and the land of the olive. From Majorca 
and Minorca, and from the Isles of Greece. 

From Berlin and Vienna ; from Dublin and from 
Paris; from the vine-clad hills of the Adriatic and 
the frozen shores of the Baltic Sea. 

From Skager Back and Skater Gat, and from Como 
and Ki Harney. 

From sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain, 
from the banks and braes o' bonny Boon, and from 
Bingen-on-the-Rhine. 

Catholic and Calvinist; Teuton, Slav, and Celt, — 
who was not there to swell that host, and the babel 
of tongues around their camp-fires? For to every hut 
in Europe, where the pinch of want was known, had 
gone the rumor of fabulous bounty and high pay now, 
generous pension hereafter. 

At Bull Run the !North met the South; at Appomat- 
tox Lee laid down his sword in the presence of the 
world in arms. 



CHAPTER LXXI. 



And Gordon ? "What did he see, standing on Massa- 
nutten's crest? 

They lay there, beyond Cedar Creek, the Eighth 
Corps, the Nineteenth Corps and the Sixth; and, further 
away, the heavy masses of their cavalry; spread out 
before him, forty or fifty thousand strong. 

Like a map. " I can distinguish the very chevrons 
of that sergeant," said he. 

And now he bends his eyes on Fisher's Hill. 

Those men lying there were beaten at Winchester, 
one month ago. Against brigade Early can bring regi- 
ment, against division, brigade; can oppose division to 
corps. And yet he is going to hurl this little handful 
against that mighty host. 

A mere handful ; but hearts of English oak ! The 
ancestors of these men fought and won at Crecy and 



444 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

Agincourt; and they are going to figbt and lose at 
Cedar Creek. The result was different, — but the odds 
and the spirit were the same. 

Have 1 forgotten the brigade of Louisiana Creoles ? 
No; but when I would speak of them, a certain indig- 
nant sorrow chokes my utterance. They came to us 
many and they went away few ; and the Yalley has 
been made historic by their blood, mingled with ours. 

And now is heard the voice of one, speaking as with 
authority, — the voice of a Louisianian, proclaiming to 
the world that these Louisianians died in an unjust 
cause. Unjust! It is a word not to be used lightly. 
Your share of the obloquy, living comrades, you can 
bear ; but thei?^s f For they are not here to speak for 
themselves. 

And to say it to their widows and their orphans ! 

That word could not help the slave. ITe is free, 
thank heaven. Nor was the war in which these men 
died waged to free him. He was freed to wage the 
war, rather, as everybody knew when the proclamation 
of emancipation was promulgated. In point of fact, 
the struggle was between conflicting interpretations of 
the Constitution ; and the Northern people, by a great 
and successful war, established their view of its obliga- 
tions; the freedom of the slave being a corollary of 
victory. 

Unjust! had it not been as well to leave that word 
to others? 'Tis an ill bird that fouls its own nest. 

The war wrought wide ruin ; but it has been a boon 
to the South in this, at least: that it has jostled our 
minds out of their accustomed grooves. Bold thinking 
has come to be the fashion. And so we should not 
find fault with the author of Doctor Sevier, if, dazzled 
by the voluptuous beauty of quadroon and octoroon, 
he should find a solution of our race troubles in in- 
termarriage. Let him think his little thought. Let 
him say his little say. It will do no harm. On one 
question he will find, I think, a "solid" North and 
a " solid" South. Both are content to choose their 
wives from among the daughters of that great Aryan 
race which boasts so many illustrious women ; and 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 445 

which boasts still more the millions of gentle mothers 
and brave wives, whose names the trump of fame has 
never sounded. And with such, I think, both the blue 
and the gray are likely to rest content. Content, too, 
that their children, like themselves, should be of that 
pure Indo-Germanic stock whence has sprung a Socrates 
and a Homer; a Caesar and a Galileo; a Descartes 
and a Pascal ; a Goethe and a Beethoven ; a Newton 
and a Shakespeare. The countrj^men of Cervantes and 
of Cortez, failing to keep their blood pure, have peo- 
pled a continent with Greasers and with Gauchos. And 
shall the children of Washington become a nation of 
Pullman car porters — and octoroon heroines — be their 
eyes never so lustrous? 

But such matters are legitimate subjects of discus- 
sion. So let him have his say. But there are things 
which it is more seeml}^ to leave unsaid. 

AYhen a step-mother is installed in the house, you 
may think her vastly superior, if you will, with her 
velvets and her laces and her diamonds, to her that bore 
you ; and you may, perhaps, win fame as an original 
thinker by saying so to the world ; but there is a cer- 
tain instinct of manhood that would seal the lips of 
most men. And I, for my part, know many, very 
many Northern men ; and not one of them seems to 
wish to have me grovel in the dust and cry peccavi. 
Would it not have been a disgrace to them to have 
spent, with all their resources and odds, four years in 
subduing a race of snivellers ? No ; let us say to the 
end : you were right in fighting for j^our countr}-, we 
equally right in battling for ours. The North will, the 
North does respect us all the more for it. 

As I read these words, Charley rose, and, opening a 
book-case, took out a volume. Finding, apparently, the 
passage he sought, he closed the book upon his fore- 
finger. 

"When a man takes upon himself," he began, "to 
rise up before Israel to confess and make atonement 
for the sins of the people, he should be quite sure that 
he has the right to exercise the functions of high-priest. 

"If either his father or his mother, for example, 
38 



446 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

sprang from the region roundabout Tyre and Sidon, 
that should bid hira pause. It is not enough that one 
wields the pen of a ready writer. One must be an 
Hebrew of the Hebrews. Else the confession goes 
for naught. 

"What Jack has just read," added he, "brought to 
my mind a passage which I have not thought of for 
ages. You must know, Alice, that after the death of 
Cyrus at the battle of Cunaxa, the Ten Thousand made 
a truce with Tissaphernes, lieutenant of Artaxerxes, 
who agreed to conduct them back to Greece. After 
journeying together for some time, he invited the Greek 
generals to a conference at his headquarters. Clearchus 
and almost all of the leading officers accepted the invi- 
tation, and at a given signal were seized and murdered. 

" The Ten Thousand were in as bad plight as ever an 
army was. Without leaders, confronted by a countless 
host, they had either to surrender or cut their way 
through a thousand miles of hostile territory. 

" Xenophon, though not an officer, called an assembly, 
and soon aroused a stern enthusiasm. Speech after 
speech was made, and no one uttered other than brave 
words, except a certain Apollonides; and he cried out 
that the others spoke nonsense, — that the safe and prof- 
itable thing to do was to grovel before the Great King. 
Xenophon replied in a sarcastic vein, ending as fol- 
lows : 

" ' It seems to me, oh men, that we should not admit 
this man into any fellowship with us, but that we should 
cashier him of his captaincy and put baggage upon his 
back, and use him as a beast of burden. For he is a 
disgrace to his native land and to all Greece, since, 
being a Greek, he is such as he is.' 

'"And thereupon, Agasias, the Stymphalian, taking 
up the discourse, said, ' But this man is not a Greek ; 
for I see that, like a Lydian, he has both his ears 
bored.' 

" And such was the fact. Him, therefore, they cast 
out." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 447 



CHAPTER LXXII. 

It is not my purpose to describe the battle of Cedar 
Creek. Even of the role played by Gordon's division, 
of which the present writer formed, according to Alice, 
a large part, I shall give no detailed account ; for my 
object is not so much to instruct military men as to en- 
tertain my fair reader. 

Three simultaneous attacks were to be made. Ros- 
ser, advancing along the " Back-road," far away to our 
left, was to swoop down, with his cavalry, upon that 
of the enemy. Kerahaw and Wharton were to attack 
his centre ; Gordon, with Eamseur and Pegram, to turn 
and assault his left. 

At eight o'clock, therefore, in the evening of October 
18, 1864, our men, rising from around their camp-fires 
and buckling on their accoutrements, took up their 
line of march. The enemy was miles away, yet they 
spoke in undertones ; for their instinct told them that 
they were to surprise* him. Their very tread as they 
moved along was in a muffled rhythm, as it seemed to 
me, and their canteens gave forth a dim jingle, as of 
sheep-bells, by night, from a nodding flock on a distant 
hill. 

Leaving the pike and turning to the right, we (Gor- 
don's command) at one time marched down a country 
road, at another straggled, single-file, along bridle- 
paths, at times fought our way through briers and 
amid jagged rocks as we toiled along under the shadow 
of Massanutten. 

At last, when the night was wellnigh spent, we 
stacked arms in a field. The shining Shenandoah mur- 
mured just in front of us. We talked almost in whis- 
pers. 

Suddenly the notes of a bugle, faint, far away, broke 
the stillness of the night. The enemy's cavalry at 
Front Royal were sounding the reveille. We held our 
breath, — had they divined our intentions ? 



448 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

The bugle- call to our right had scarcely died away, 
when, from far away to our left, the rattle of carbines 
was heard, low and soft, as though one dreamt of battle ! 
'Twas Eosser. Unfortunately, be had found a portion 
of the enemy in the saddle and ready to march, though 
not expecting an attack. 

Just then the clanking of sabres and the trampling 
of hoofs was heard close beside us ; and turning, we 
saw a squadron of our cavalry moving upon the ford. 
A thick mist had begun to rise, and as they rode through 
it they seemed colossal phantoms rather than earthly 
horsemen. A few moments, and the crack of carbine- 
shots was heard. The enemy's videttes retired, and 
our horsemen dashed across the stream. We followed, 
and formed in a field beyond the river. 

The mist thickened Avith the approach of day. You 
could scarcely see a man thirty feet away. Captain 
Smith had deplo^'ed his skirmishers. As he stood near 
me, Avaiting for the word forward, a terrific rattle of 
musketry burst upon our ears, coming from our left. 
It was Kershaw, Ave knew. And then the cannon be- 
gan to roar. Kershaw had left, his artillery behind 
him. Had they been ready to receive him, and were 
the cannon and rifles of an entire corps mowing down 
his gallant little division? It was an appalling 
moment ! 

The word was given, and Captain Smith and his 
skirmishers dashed into the wood at a double-quick. 
We followed, and soon the air was filled with the roar 
of wide-spread battle. The cannon that we had heard, 
as we soon learned, were captured guns that Kershaw 
had turned upon the enemy. His division had rushed 
up a steep hill and put a corps to flight. Between us, 
we had soon driven, in headlong rout from their camps, 
the Eighth and the Nineteenth Corps. The Sixth re- 
mained, but we could not see it, so dense was the mist. 
Our assault slackened, ceased. 

What would have been the result had we pushed on 
it is needless, now, to inquire. Desultory firing con- 
tinued till about four o'clock in the afternoon, when 
Sheridan, who was at Winchester when the- battle be- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 449 

gan, having galloped up, rallied thousands of the fuo-i- 
tives, and adding them to the Sixth Corps and his 
heavy force of cavalry, attacked and routed us in 
turn. 

There were those who said that Early, if he did not 
choose to continue the attack (the most brilliant move- 
ment of the war, I think), should have withdrawn his 
troops, and not held them there, in an open plain, with 
greatly superior forces in his immediate front. He 
himself, smarting under defeat, attributed the disaster 
to the fact that his men, scattering through the cap- 
tured camps, were engaged in plundering instead of 
being at their posts; and his words have been quoted 
by our friends the enemy. But I think that a moment's 
reflection will dispel this idea. Our hungry men, pur- 
suing the enemy, and coming upon their sutlers' wagons, 
did undoubtedly snatch up such edibles as came in their 
way; but this occurred at day -break, and we were not 
attacked till four o'clock in the afternoon. I remember 
that I myself, espying a fat leg of mutton (of which 
some farmer had been robbed), laid hands on it with a 
view to a royal supper when the battle should be over ; 
and, by brandishing it over my head, like a battle-axe, 
caused much laughter in the ranks. ' What became of 
it I cannot recall. I know I did not eat it ; but I know, 
too, that my seizing it had no influence on the fortunes 
of the daj^ 

The truth is, our defeat requires no explanation or 
apology from our brave old general. When Sheridan 
attacked us, he brought against our thin, single line of 
jaded men, overwhelming masses of fresh troops, as- 
saulting our front, and, at the same time, turning both 
our flanks. I remember that Gordon's men, who held 
the left of our line, did not give way till bodies of the 
enemy had marched entirely around our flank, and be- 
gan to pour deadly and unanswered volleys into our 
backs. 

One more word and I am done with the battle as such. 

Captain Smith, in his letter to Major Frobisher, found 

it impossible to understand why our army was not 

entirely destroyed at Winchester. I, on the contrary, 

dd 38* 



450 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

can explain how it was that we were not annihilated at 
Cedar Creek. 

When the enemy, in their pursuit, reached Stras- 
burg, and saw, below tliem, slowly retreating along the 
road to Fisher's Hill, a dark mass of troops, they called 
a halt. That halt saved our army. I can hardly re- 
press a smile now, when I remember that that serried 
phalanx which looked so formidable, and gave the 
enemy pause, consisted of fifteen hundred Federal 
prisoners, guarded by a few hundred of our men. But 
the eccentric strategy of that halt, instead of being 
comic, was, in truth, fearfully tragic; for it protracted 
the defence of Eichmond, and delayed the close of the 
war till the following spring, and cost the hves of thou- 
sands of brave men on both sides. 

So much for the battle of Cedar Creek. Such slight 
sketch of it as I have given has cost me more pain than 
it can give the reader pleasure. Not willingly did I 
introduce it into my storj'. 

That story grows sombre. It opened bright and joy- 
ous as the sunny nook of Earth in which my earlier 
scenes w^ere laid. But between my hero and the land 
he helped to defend there is a parallelism of fortunes. 
The shadow of the same fate hangs over both. 



SYMPHONY OF LIFE. MOVEMENT IV. 

L. VAN Beethoven, "Eroica" Symphmy. 




SYMPHONY OF LIFE, 
MOVEMEI^T IV. 



CHAPTER LXXIII. 



During the night of this 18th of October, while we 
were making our toilsome advance upon the enemy, a 
Virginia soldier, wounded in the battle of Winchester, 
lay in a small room of a house in the edge of Middle- 
town ; around which village the battle of Cedar Creek 
was chiefly fought. Upon some bedding, spread upon 
the floor, lay a young woman, his cousin ; who, having 
heard that he had been hard hit, had made her way to 
the enemj^'s pickets, and, after some parleying, gained, 
permission to pass within their lines and nurse her 
wounded relative. This young woman had, since the 
beginning of the war, passed her life, as one might say, 
in our hospitals. But her present position, within the 
enemy's lines, was a trying one. It so happened that 
between the Federal oflicer who occupied a room in the 
same house and herself a strong antipathy soon grew 
up. The little nurse was too busy attending to the 
wants of her wounded cousin to leave his side often ; 
but being under the same roof with the Federal officer, 
the}' met, in a casual manner, not infrequently. These 
meetings he contrived to make very disagreeable, by 
continually attempting to force political discussions 
upon her. But she, on her side, managed to render 
them far more exasperating to him. 

He that would get the better of a woman had best 
finish her with a club at once and be done with it ; he 

451 



452 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

is sure to get the worst of it in a tongue-battle. It 
ma}^ be a washerwoman opening on you with Gatling- 
gun invective, and sweeping jou from the face of the 
earth; or a dainty society belle, with a dropping sharp- 
shooter fire of soft-voiced sarcasm, — in either case you 
shall wish that you had held your peace. 

And so this big Federal colonel never had an en- 
counter with the little rebel nurse but he gnashed his 
teeth and raged for hours afterwards. She always 
contrived, in the subtlest way, and without saying so, 
to make him feel that she did not look upon him as a 
gentleman. One day, for example, he had been care- 
fully explaining to her in how many ways the Northern 
people were superior to the Southern. 

" But I don't believe," added he, with evident acri- 
mony, " that you F. F. Y.'s think there is one gentle- 
man in the whole North. This arrogance on your part 
is reall}^ one main cause of the war." 

" I can readily believe you, — for I understand the 
feeling. But really you do us an injustice. I know, 
personally, a number of Northern gentlemen. In New 
York, for instance" (the colonel was from that city), 

" I am acquainted with the family and the s 

and the s, do you know them ?" 

The colonel hesitated. 

"No?" said she, in soft surprise. "Ah, you should 
lose no time in making their acquaintance on your 
return to the city. They are very nice. But I hear 
my patient calling. Good-day!" 

The colonel knew, and he saw plainly that she knew, 
that he could no more enter one of those houses than 
he could fly. He could not answer her. All that was 
left him was to hate her, and this he did with his whole 
heart; and all aristocrats, living and dead. 

When the crash of battle burst forth, on the morning 
of the nineteenth, the colonel hurried forth to form his 
regiment. He met his men rushing pell-mell to the 
rear, and he ran back to his headquarters to gather a 
few things that la}^ scattered about his room. Although 
the bullets were flying thick, frequently striking the 
house itself, he found the little nurse standing on the 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 453 

porch, exultation in every feature. The whizzing of 
the rifle-balls sceraed sweet to her ears. Confederate 
bullets would not hurt her. 

" Get out of my Avay," said he, in a gruff voice. " Thip 
is no place for women." 

"Nor for men, either, 3'ou seem to think!" 

He gave her a black look. 

" Why this unseemly haste, colonel ?" said she, follow- 
ing him into the hall. '• What ! through the back door i 
The Confederates are there!" And she stabbed the aii 
in the direction of the coming bullets with a gesture 
that would have made the fortune of a tragedy queen. 

" Take that, d — n you !" And he brought his open 
hand down upon her cheek with such force that, reeling 
through the open door of her room, she fell headlong 
upon the floor. 

'•Coward!" roared a voice from the threshold of the 
hall. 

liising to her knees and turning, she saw the colonel 
spring forward with a fierce glare in his eyes and a 
cocked pistol in his extended hand. She shut her eyes 
and stopped her ears. 

Had he killed the Confederate? JSTo, for she heard 
no fall; but the clear ring, instead, of a sabre drawn 
quickly from its scabbard. The colonel stepped across 
the threshold of the room in which she was, cocking 
his pistol for another shot. He raised the weapon,— but 
she heard a spring in the hall, and saw a flash of steel; 
and the colonel fell at full length upon the floor, with a 
sword-blade buried up to the hilt in his breast. With such 
terrific force had the thrust been delivered that he was 
knocked entirely ofi" his feet, and the whole house shook. 
"JofjTTTjffsv de 7r£<ro>v, apdjSrjffs Se reu^e' i- 'aorcD," * mut- 
tered the victor, as the young woman, springing to her 
feet, threw her arms around his neck and kfssed him. 

"My brave defender!" cried she, in a fervor of 
patriotic exaltation, lifting her eyes to his ; and then 
she sprang back with a shiver, and stood breathless 

* He fell with a crash, and his arms rattled upon him. (The Homeric 
formula when a warrior falls.) 



454 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

before him, her head bowed upon her breast, her face 
ashy pale. 

A scene within a scene. 

Without, the roar of cannon, the incessant rattle of 
musketry, the bursting of shells, the panic-stricken 
rush of riderless horses, the tramp of hurrying men, 
the Eebel Yell sweeping by like a tornado, shouts of 
victory, moans of tlie dying. 

Within, four people for a moment oblivious of all this 
mad hurly-burly that billowed around them. 

The convalescent soldier, rising upon his elbow, 
looked with silent amazement upon the crouching 
figure of his fair cousin ; while the dying Union sol- 
dier forgot, for a moment, his gaping wound as he 
gazed upon the man who had inflicted it. Tall, broad- 
shouldered, gaunt of flank, supple, straight as an In- 
dian, he held in his right hand the gory sword, from 
which the prostrate officer saw his own life-blood trick- 
ling, drop by drop, upon the floor. In his left he held 
his cap uplifted. 

Attila and Monsieur Deux-pas in one! 

With cap uplifted; but head thrown back and eyes 
averted. His right shoulder and breast were soaked 
with blood, which was streaming down his brown 
beard upon his coat, from a bullet-hole in his bronzed 
cheek. But it was his eyes which riveted the attention 
of his fallen enemy. He had been appalled by their 
fierce glare, when, angered by the pistol-shot, he had 
sprung upon him in the hall. But that look had been 
soft compared Avith the cold, steady, pitiless gleam 
they poured forth now. That man, thought he, would 
not give a cup of water to a dying enemy. 

Captain Smith made two steps towards the door, and 
turning, bowed. 

Feeling that he was going (for she had not dared to 
raise her eyes), Mary EolTc quivered for a moment 
from head to foot ; then springing forward, with pas- 
sionate entreaty in every gesture and a cry of anguish 
upon her lips : 

"And you will leave me without a word ? Listen I 
How frightfully the battle is raging! And you are so 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 455 

cruel, cruel, as to go forth, and die, perhaps, without 
ever — 1 know 3'ou will be killed, I know it, I know it ! 
And jou won't Ray 3'ou forgive me! "Won't you say 
just that one little word ? You loved me once, — and 
dearly, for you pressed me against your heart and told 
me so ; and can that heart, once so tender, be so hard 
now? Oh, say you forgive me; for the sake of that 
dear, dead love, say you forgive your little Mary !" 

And round about them the battle roared and surged 
and thundered. 

Her cousin has told me that such was the pathos and 
passion of her tones, her looks, her gestures, as she 
uttered these words (which hardly seemed unconven- 
tional in their fearful setting), that the eyes of the 
dying soldier grew moist. But Captain Smith, stand- 
ing like a granite cliff: 

" There is nothing to forgive. You did your duty 
as you saw it. So did I when I ran that officer through. 
— Ah, pardon me : I had forgotten you. Can I do any- 
thing for you ?" added he in a tender voice, as he 
kneeled beside him. 

" Unbutton my coat, please ; I am choking." 

The captain shuddered as he saw the broad gash in 
the breast of his enem3\ " I am sorry I hit you so 
hard." 

"It is all right," replied he, wearily. "I tried to 
kill you, and you killed me, that's all. But thank 3'ou 
for your kind words." 

The captain's eyes filled with tears. "I hope it is 
not as bad as you think. I'll send you a surgeon im- 
mediately. Meanwhile, keep up your spirits." And 
taking the wounded man's hand in his, he pressed it 
softly. Then, rising, " Good-by," said he, with a cheer- 
ing smile, and moved towards the door. 

It was then that Mar}^, catching, for the first time, a 
view of the right side of his face, saw the blood trick- 
ling down his cheek. 

" You are wounded already," she cried in terror. 

"Yes; wounded beyond healing," said the captain 
of the Myrmidons ; and with a cold bow, he passed out 
of the door and into the tempest of the battle. 



456 TEE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" Oh — oh — oh !" gasped Mary, Tvringing hei' inter- 
locked hands high above her head ; and she sank slowly 
down upon the floor. 

The measures fashioned by the hands of men can 
hold but so much ; but anguish without limit may be 
pent up within a human heart that is bursting, yet 
will not burst. 

The officer turned his eyes, and, even in his own great 
extremity, pitied her. 

And, after all, which of the two was most to be pitied? 

He was about to speak a few kind words, when he 
saw upon her pallid cbeek the dark bruises made by his 
own heavy hand ; and he held his peace. His lips were 
parched, his throat tortured with that cruel thirst that 
loss of blood entails. His wounded neighbor could not, 
she would not hand him a cup of water. At any rate, 
it were worthier to die there, where he la}', rather than 
ask a favor of the woman he had so insulted. Three 
times he tried to rise, and as often fell heavily back. 
She raised her head and saw the longing, wistful look 
in his eyes, fixed upon a bucket which stood in a corner 
of the room. 

It is wonderful how sorrow^ softens the heart ! 

She rose in an instant and brought him the cup. 
He could not lift his head. Bending over him, she 
placed her arm beneath his neck and raised him. As 
he drank, the tears poured down his cheeks. Gently 
withdrawing her arm, she tripped softly across the 
room and brought her own pillow and placed it beneath 
his head ; and sitting down upon the floor, by his side, 
stroked his brown forehead with her soft white hand. 
He raised his streaming eyes to hers, and again and 
again essayed to speak ; but his quivering lips refused 
to obey. 

" I know what you would say ; so never mind. Don't 
worry now. You may beg my pardon when you get 
well." 

He shook his head sadly. " I am dying now, — I feel 
it." 

His voice sank into a whisper. She bent over him 
to catch his words. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 457 

" Promise me to write to my mother and tell her how 
I died, and that jon sat beside me. Leave out one 
thing. It would break her heart to hear that of me. 
You will? God bless you. Her address is in my 
pocket. Write to her. You promise ? Oh, how good 
of you to hold the very hand that — " 

" Hush ! Don't talk of that now." 

"You won't have to hold it long. I feel it coming, 
coming. Press my hand hard, harder ! You have for- 
given me ! Tell her, that as I lay — dying — far away 
from home — an angel — of light — " 



CHAPTEE LXXIY. 



If only night would come ! 

They were pouring down upon us and around us in 
overwhelming masses. They had turned our left, and 
were raking Gordon's flank and rear. It was a ques- 
tion of a few minutes only. 

In our front was a narrow field. Beyond that, a wood. 
Through this the enemy were driving our skirmishers 
back upon the main line. One by one these brave men 
emerged from the wood and trotted briskly across the 
field, targets, every one of them, for a dozen rifles. 

There come two more ! They are the last. But they 
do not trot, as the rest did and as skirmishers should. 

Upon those two, convergent rifles from all along the 
line of the wood poured a rain of lead. Still they re- 
fused to hurry. And one was tall and bearded, and 
the other slender, and with a face as smooth as a girl's. 
The boy, as fast as he loaded his rifle, wheeled and fired; 
the man carried a pistol in his hand. Weeds fell about 
them, mowed down by the bullets; spurts of dust 
leaped from under their very feet. 

The few men left in our line stood, under cover of a 
thin curtain of trees, fascinated by the sight of these 
u 39 



458 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

two, leisurely stalking along, under that murderous 
fire* 

" Eun, run !" we shouted. 

"Eun !" cried Captain Smith, giving the shoulder of 
his companion a push. 

"And leave my commander!" replied Edmund. 

" Stoop, then !'*' 

" Show me how, captain !" 

"Obey me!" thundered he. 

The boy lowered his head, as he rammed a bullet 
home; then turned, and, cocking his rifle, scanned the 
opposite wood narrowly. Presently he raised his rifle; 
but before he could fire we heard that terrible sound 
which old soldiers know so well. 

" Oh !" cried the boy, falling upon his face. 

"My God! my God!" ejaculated the captain of the 
Myrmidons, with a woman's tenderness in his voice 
and the despair of Laocoon in his corrugated brow. 

Hearing that cry, the boy turned quickly and smiled 
in his captain's face. " It is only a flesh-wound, through 
the thigh," said he ; "I can walk, I think." 

He was attempting to rise, when his captain, placing 
his strong arms beneath him, lifted him high in the air. 
He ran, then ; and his face was full of terror, as the 
thick-flying bullets whistled past him and his burden. 
The two were within a few paces of where I stood, 
when again that terrific sound was heard ; and they 
both fell heavily at my very feet. 

A bullet, coming from our flank and rear, had struck 
Captain Smith in the right breast. 

It was a wound in front, at any rate. 

There was but one ambulance-wagon in sight, and 
that was retreating. A skirmisher ran to overtake it. 
Others placed the captain and Edmund on stretchers 
and hurried after it. 

"Jack, old boy; good-by. I am done for; but I 
particularly desire to get within our lines; so hold 
them in check as long as you can. Say farewell to 
Charley." 

* Meis ipsius vidi oculia. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 459 

A few of his own men held their ground till they 
saw their captain and Edmund disappear, in the wagon, 
over the hill, when they fell back, loading and firing as 
they went. When the wagon reached the bridge be- 
yond Strasburg, it was found broken down ; but the 
men with the stretchers managed to get our two 
wounded friends across the stream, and to find another 
wagon ; so, the pursuit slackening at this juncture, 
they were not captured. 

Late in the night, I found them by the road-side. 
Edmund was asleep. The captain lay awake, watched 
by one of his brave skirmishers. He gave messages 
to m}^ grandfather, to Charley and Alice, to the Poy- 
thresses. "And now, good-night," said he. "You need 
rest. Throw yourself down by that fire and go to 
sleep. Don't bother about me. I shall set out for 
Harrisonburg at daybreak." 

"The ride will kill you." 

He smiled faintly. "I must get well within our 
lines. Eemember — Harrisonburg — good-night !" And 
he closed his eyes and wearily turned his face away. 
"Shelton!" 

The skirmisher bent tenderly over his captain. 

"Lie down by the fire and sleep. You cannot help 
me. God alone can do that, and he will release me 
from my sufferings before many days. Sholton, give 
me your hand. Tell your little boy, when he grows up, 
that I said you were as brave as a lion in battle; and 
tell your wife that you could be as gentle as a woman 
to a suffering comrade. And now lie down and rest. 
Good-night !" 

" Presently, captain." 

"What are you crying about, man? Such things 
will happen. Good-night!" 



460 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTER LXXY. 

Let us return to that little parlor on Leigh Street, 
from the windows of which, four years ago, we caught 
our first glimpse of the man who has played so large a 
part in our story. It is full of people, now, — half a 
dozen elderly men, all the rest women. Of the men, 
one is a minister, with a face so singularly gentle that 
his smile is a sort of subdued sunbeam. 

The countenances of the women all wear looks of 
happy expectancy. Mr. and Mrs. Poythress are there, 
and Lucy. Mr. and Mrs. Eolfe, but not Mary. And 
others whom the reader, to her cost, does not know. 
Our plump friend, Mrs. Carter, is bustling about, who 
but she, her jolly face wreathed in smiles. 

At every sound in the hall, every female neck is 
craned towards the door. Somebody or something is 
expected. 

" Mrs. Carter," said Mrs. Poythress, " what name 
has Alice selected for the little man ?" 

" Oh, yes ! what is to be his name ?" echoed every 
lady in the room. 

Thereupon, Mrs. Carter, being constitutionally inca- 
pable of laughing, began to shake. 

At this eccentric behavior on the part of the young 
grandmother, curiosity rose to fever heat; but the 
more they plied her with questions, the more she could 
not answer. Seeing her incapable of speech, her grave 
and silent husband came to the rescue, and explained 
that what amused Mrs. Carter was that she did not 
know what their grandchild was to be called. It ap- 
peared that Alice, as a reward for his getting well of his 
wound, had allowed Charley the privilege of naming 
their son. He had accepted the responsibility, — but no 
mortal, not even his wife, had been able to make him 
say what the name was to be. 

This statement sent the curiosity of the audience up 
to the boiling point. Did you ever ! 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 461 

Mrs. Eolfe interrogated Mr. Eolfe with her impressive 
eyes. 

" Such a fancy would never have occurred to me, I'm 
sure," said that man of peace. 

" Al-i-ce !" called Mrs. Carter, from the foot of the 
stairs. 

" We are coming, mother," answered a cheer}" voice 
from the hall above; and Alice, giving two or three 
final little jerks at the ends of certain ribbons and bits 
of lace that adorned her boy (he was asleep on his 
nurse's shoulder), stood aside to let that dignitary pass 
down-stairs, at the head of the procession. 

"And now," said Alice, going up to her husband, 
"w^hat is his name to be?" 

" One that he will never have cause to be ashamed 
of," replied Charley. 

Alice drew back in surprise. Up to this point she 
had looked upon the thing as a joke, and enjoyed it, 
too, as so characteristic of her husband. This time, 
however, he had not smiled, as usual. On the contrary, 
he betrayed, both in voice and look, a certain suppressed 
excitement. She imagined, even, that he was a trifle 
pale ; and her heart began to flutter a little, she knew 
not why. 

The column halted when it reached the closed par- 
lor door. Here Charley took the sleeping boy in his 
arms. 

When the audience within heard the knob rattle, the 
excitement was intense. It was dissipated, in an in- 
stant, by the sight of Charley bearing the child. 

In this wide world there lives not a woman who can 
look upon a bearded man, w4th his first infant in his 
arms, without smiling. 

The admiring ohs and ahs made the young mother's 
heart beat high with joy. And who shall call her 
weak, because she forgot that they are to be heard at 
every christening? In the name of pity, let us sip 
whatever illusive nectar chance flowers along our stony 
path may afford ! 

Every one noticed how awkward Charley was in 
handing the baby to the minister ; while the good man, 

39* 



462 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

on the contrary, received an ovation of approving 
smiles for his skill in holding him. 

The little fellow, himself, appeared to feel the differ- 
ence. He nestled, at an}- rate, against the comfortable 
shoulder, and threw his head back; and his little twink- 
ling nose, pointing heavenward, seemed to say that he 
knew what it all meant. 

"]S"ame this child!" 

"Ah-ah-ah-ah!" 

Every neck was craned, every ear eager to catch the 
first mysterious syllable ! 

Alice glanced anxiously at her husband. 

Why that determined look? What was he going to 
do? 

A lightning-flash darted through her brain ! Char- 
ley's mother's father was named Peter ! He had been 
a man of mark in his day ; and, besides, Charley wor- 
shipped his mother's memory. Peter! Horrors! And 
then he stammers so over his P's ! That half-defiant 
look, too ! 

Charley leaned forward. 

She could not hear what he said ; but she saw, from 
the obstinate recusancy of his lips, that there was a P 
in the name. She felt a choking in her throat. 

'Twas her first, — and Peter! And he knew how 
painfully absurd she thought the name! Poor little 
innocent babe! Peter! Her eyes filled with tears. 

No one had heard the name ; not even the minister. 
He bent an inquiring look upon Charley. 

Charle}^ repeated the words. 

This time the good man heard, though no one else 
did. Bringing his left arm around in front of his 
breast, he dipped his right hand into the water, and 
raised it above the head of the sleeping boy. 

Alice's heart stood still ! 

" Theodoric Poythress, I baptize thee — " 

A gasp of surprise, followed by a stifled moan, 
startled minister and people ; and all eyes were turned 
towards the Poythress group. 

Mrs. Poythress lay with her head upon her husband's 
breast, silent tears streaming from her closed eyes. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF, 4^3 

Lucy, half-risen from her seat, leaned over her mother, 
holdin<r her hand, deep compassion in her gentle ej^es! 
Her father sat bolt upright looking stern, in his ettbrt 
to appear calm. Her motlier pressed Lucy gently back 
into her chair, and the minister went on. 

Hurried leave-takings followed the ceremony. The 
baby was awake and gurgling, but nobody noticed h'"m : 
not even his mother. Mrs. Poythress did not stir. 
The front door was heard to close. 
" Lucy, are the}' all gone ?" 
" Yes, mother." 

She opened her eyes, and seeing Charley standino-, 
silent, by the side of his wife, rose and stao-crered to- 
wards him, with oustretchcd arms. He ran'^to meet 
her; and she folded him to her breast with a long, con- 
vulsive embrace; then dropped into a chair, without a 
^vord, and covered her face with one hand, while she 
held one of his with the other. 

First, Lucy thanked Charley, and then Mr. Poythress 
coming up, and taking Charley's hand in both his : '' My 
boy, 3'ou are as true as steel,— I thank you." And he 
strode stiffly out into the hall. 

And instantly, as Alice's quick eye noticed, the cloud 
which had lingered on her husband's brow vanished. 
He drew along, deep breath, and turning with a bri<rht 
smile, chucked young Theodoric under the chin. " How 
do^you like your name, young fellow?" 

The corners of the young fellow's mouth made for 
his ears, then snapped together beneath his nose. 

" Your views vary with kaleidoscopic rap-p-p-pidity " 
remarked the philosopher. -^ i 1 1 j^ 

The son of the philosopher crowed. 
"He says he rather likes his name," said Charley; 
'•'but," added he, drawing his handkerchief from his 
pocket, "those drops of water, at the corners of his 
eyes, look too much like — " 

"Hush!" cried Alice, quickly; and she laid her hand 
on her husband's mouth. 
"Absit omenr said he. 



464 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTEE LXXYI. 

On the morning following this christening, the papers 
contained a telegraphic account of our defeat at Cedar 
Creek. And, late in the afternoon of the same day, 
Lucy Poythress walked into the Carters' back parlor. 
Her eyes were red and swollen. 

" Have you any news ?" asked Alice, anxiously. 

" Here is a letter from Edmund." 

" Then he is safe, thank God !" 

" Not exactly. The poor child was shot through the 
thigh. Mr. Whacker is unhurt." 

" And Captain Smith ?" 

Lucy lips quivered. 

"Not killed?" cried Alice, clasping her hands. 

" No, but dangerously wounded, — very. Here is Ed- 
mund's letter to mother." 

Alice read it aloud. He gave an account of the bat- 
tle, making light of his own w^ound (" The rascals 
popped me in the second joint"), but represented his 
captain's as very serious. The captain had advised him 
to remain in Harrisonburg, but had himself gone to 
Taylor's Springs, four miles distant. As for himself, 
he was in luck. 

" Who do you think is my nurse ? Why, Miss Mary 
Eolfe! The battle caught her in Middletown, nursing 
a Confederate soldier; and when, in the afternoon, the 
enemy showed signs of an intention to attack, the cap- 
tain sent me, with an ambulance-wagon, to Miss Mary. 
I was to tell her that in my opinion (that is what he 
told me to say) it would be safest for her to move her 
patient to the rear. And here she is now ; and a gen- 
tler nurse no one ever had. He never mentioned her 
name to me; but she tells me that she knew him 
slightly, once. It is a pity he went off to Taylor's, 
for she would have nursed him, too, 1 am sure. 

" He told me a lot of things to tell you about my- 
self, but I shan't repeat them, as I don't think I be- 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 465 

Laved any better than hundreds of others that I saw 
around me. I could not help crying when they took 
him from his cot by my side ; for from the way he 
told me good-by, I saw that he did not expect ever to 
see me again. No brother was ever kinder than he 
has been to me. The last thing he said to me was to 
give his dea?', dear love to you (those were his words), 
and to say that he relied on you to keep your promise. 
I asked him what promise, but he said never mind, she 
will remember." 

In conclusion, Edmund besought his mother to come 
on to see him. Miss Mary was as good as could be, 
but, after all, one's mother was different, etc., etc., etc. 

" What promise could he have alluded to ?" asked 
Alice. 

" That is just what I asked mother," said Lucy. " Do 
you believe in presentiments, Alice? I do; and when 
mother told me what her promise to the Don was" 
(here Charley, who had not spoken a word, rose and 
left the room), " I was filled with dreadful forebodings. 
You know that during the latter part of his stay down 
in the counuy, before joining the army, the Don spent 
a great deal of his time with us. One afternoon Ave 
were taking a little stroll, before tea, Mr. Frobisher 
walking with me, and, some distance behind us, the Don, 
with mother. She stopped at our family cemetery to 
set out some plants; and she tells me that it was on 
this occasion that she made him the promise in ques- 
tion. 

" She says that when she pointed out to him the 
spot that she had selected for her own resting-place, he 
looked down for some time, and then said that he had 
a favor to ask her. 

" ' I am to join the army, next week,' said he. 

" ' Well ?' said she. 

"'There is no fighting without danger,' said he. 
' Suppose I should fall ?' 

" ' Oh, I hope not!' said mother. 

" ' Yes ; but in case I do ? This, you say, is the spot 
you have chosen for yourself If I fall— would you 
give me two yards of earth just here, at your feet ? I 



466 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

would not be in the way there, would I?' Mother 
makes a longer story of it, and an affecting one. When 
she gave him her word (mother took the greatest fancy 
to the Don from the first day she saw him) she says 
he was more deeply moved than she should have 
thought it possible for a big, strong man to be by 
such a thing. This is the promise he alludes to ; and 
I have a painful presentiment that — " 

"Mr. Frobisher recovered from an equally severe 
wound." 

" Yes, I know ; but—" 

"Miss Alice," said a servant, entering the parlor, 
" there is a soldier at the door, -who wants to speak to 
Marse Charlej-." 

Alice, going into the hall, found a man standing 
there. He was in his shirt-sleeves as to his right 
arm, which was bound in splints. 

"Do you wish to see Major Frobisher?" 

" Yes, ma'am ; I have a letter for him." 

" You may give it to me ; I am his wife." 

" Beggin' your pardon, ma'am, my orders was to give 
it to him, and nobody else." 

"Yer}^ well. Won't you come in and have some- 
thing to eat?" 

"Thank you, ma'am; I shouldn't mind a bite, if it 
wasn't too much trouble." 

" Walk in and sit down while the servant is getting 
something for j^ou. You look tired. I hope your arm 
is not much hurt." 

" Well, sort o'. They broke it for me at Cedar Creek ; 
but I got a furlough by it, and can see my wife and 
children ; so tain't worth mentionin'." 

" Cedar Creek ! Do you know Captain Smith ? How 
is he ?" 

" He is my captain, ma'am, and he was the one what 
writ the letter. He is pretty bad, I am afeard." 

"This is Major Frobisher," said Alice, as Charley en- 
tered the room. Charley read the note and put it hur- 
riedly into his pocket. After asking the man a few 
questions, he was about to leave the room : 

" Won't you let me see it?" asked Alice. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 457 

"Not yet," said Charley; and thanking the Boldier, 
he went uj)-8tairs to his room. 

Alice heard the key turn in the lock ; and when she 
went up-stairs, later, to beg him to come down to tea, 
she did not find him in the room. An hour afterwards 
he came in, saying that he had been to see Mrs. Poy- 
thress,— that she was to set out for Harrisonburg in 
the morning, and that he was going with her. 

It was in vain that Alice urged his weak condition. 
"A friend is a friend," he kept repeating. And so 
Alice set about packing his valise. Just as she had 
finished this little task the baby stirred ; Alice went up 
to his crib and patted him till he thought better of it 
and nestled down into his pillow a^j-ain. ' 

^ ''Theodoric! I think it such a'^prctty name! The 
idea of my thinking you were going to call him Peter! 
Won't you tell me something of his namesake, Lucy's 
brother? Mother tells me that she vaguely remembers 
that there was some dreadful mysteiy about his loss, 
which occurred when I was about four years old ; but 
she did not know the Poythresses at that time, and 
does not remember any of the details, if she ever knew 
them, in fact. Lucy, in explaining the scene at the 
christening yesterday, told me it was a long story, 
and a sad one, so I did not press her. But won't 
you tell me? You never tell me anything. Now be 
good, for once !" 

Alice was bringing to bear upon her obdurate hus- 
band the battery of all her cajoleries, when, to her 
surprise, he surrendered at once. 

"Yes," said he, "since our child is named in his 
honor, I will tell you the story of Theodoric Poy- 
thress." 

In the next chapter that story will be found ; though 
not in as colloquial a form as that in which Charley 
actually told it, and with most of Alice's interruptions 
omitted. 



468 r^^ STORY OF DON MIFF. 



CHAPTER LXXYII. 

" Theodoric was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Poy- 
thress. He was born on the 15th day of April, 1S32, I 
on the 2d of the preceding March ; so that I was his 
senior by six weeks. Our intimacy began when we 
were not more than six years old. Mr. Poythress had 
a tutor for Theodoric at that period, by whom half a 
dozen of the neighbors' sons were taught, myself 
among the number. I was put across the Eiver every 
morning ; but there was an understanding between my 
mother and Mrs. Poythress that whenever the weather 
grew threatening, I was to be allowed to spend the 
night with Theodoric. During the winter and early 
spring there Avas hardly a week that I did not pass at 
least one night with him ; he, in turn, spending Friday 
night and Saturday with me. Ah, how happy we 
were ! When two congenial boys are thrown togetlier 
in that way, they get about as much out of life as is to 
be gotten at any" other age. I can recall but one 
quarrel that we ever had ; and that was when I said, 
one day, that my mother was, beyond doubt, the best 
woman in the world. We compromised the matter, in 
the end, by reciprocal admissions that the mother of 
each was best to him. 

" I think few boA's were ever better friends than we ; 
and for the reasonl^ no doubt, that we differed so. Even 
as a boy I had an indolent, easy-going way of taking 
things as they came. My anger, too. was hard to 
arouse, and as easy to appease ; while his was sudden 
and fierce, and, I am sorry to add, impkicable. And 
this is true generally, notwithstanding the proverb. It 
may be that people who give way to little gusts of 
temper soon forget their wrath; but my observation 
has taught me that unappeasable, undying resentment 
is always found associated with readiness to take 
offence. This, at any rate, was Theodoric's disposition." 

" I trust," said Alice, " that our boy will not re- 
semble him in that respect." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 469 

"I hope not. But that was the only serious defect 
in his character; in my partial eyes, at least. He was 
generous, chivalrous, truth itself, absolutely unselfish, 
and, withal, paradoxical as it may appear, as tender- 
hearted as a girl. I remember a little incident which 
shows this. One day, as we school-boys were racing 
about the lawn during recess, a wretched-looking man 
walked up to us and asked for food. He was the first 
beggar we had ever seen, and two or three of us ran 
into the kitchen and returned with enough for five 
men. While he ate, the drunken old humbug, — for 
such he proved to be, — taking advantage of our sim- 
plicity, Avrought powerfully on our sympathies by 
recounting the tale of his woes. He had not tasted 
food for two days. 

'"Why did you not buy something to eat?' asked 
Theodoric, with quivering lip. 

" ' I hadn't any money.' 

" 'Then why didn't you go home to your friends?' 

" ' I ain't got no home and no friends.' 

"Whereupon Theodoric burst into a loud boohoo. 
Some of the boys began to titter ; and I think I was 
just beginning to despise him, a little, as a cry-baby, 
when his mother, who stood near, threw her arms 
around him, and said, with brimming eyes and choking 
voice, ' God will remember these tears one day, my 
precious boy !' " 

Alice rose, and, stealing softly to her baby, bent 
over and kissed him. 

" You said, just now, that you hoped our boy would 
not resemble his namesake." 

"I take that back." 

" Yon will say so all the more when I have shown 
you what kind of a son he was to that mother. 

" I believe that the English race surpasses all others in 
respect for woman ; and I think that, of the English 
race, the Americans are superior to their brethren 
across the water in this regard. And I believe, too, that 
it will hardly be denied that, among Americans, South- 
erners are conspicuous for this virtue. And it seems 
to me that of respect for woman, the love for one's 
40 



470 TUE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

mother is the very crown, and blossom, and glory. It 
means manliness, it means soul, it means a grateful 
heart. It is unwritten poetry; and if that be so, then 
the life of the boy after whom we have named our boy 
was one beautiful l3^ric. 

" His mother had a great fund of fairy-tales and other 
stories, which she used to tell us after supper. I can 
see him now, sitting on a low stool at her feet, — he 
would never sit anywhere else, — with hands clasped 
over her knees, drinking in the story, while his eyes 
clung to the gentle face of the story-teller with a kind 
of rapt adoration. And such eyes! now flashing with 
fierce indignation at one turn of the story, now melting 
with tenderness at another! 

" And she could never pass him without his throwing 
his arms around her and tip-toeing for a kiss. 'Another ! 
another! another!' he kept pleading. 'Go away, you 
silly boy!' she would say; but more than once I 
caught her, behind the door, after one of these little 
scenes, wiping her eyes with her apron. And once, when 
Theodoric had left the room, apd I, in m^^ simplicity, 
asked her what was the matter, she burst into a sob. 
' Nothing, my child,' she said ; ' onl}^, I am too happy.' 

" It was hard — " 

Charley rose and walked up and down the room 
three or four times. 

" It was hard to lose such a boy as that !" 

Alice was silent. 

" His love for his mother was his religion. And this 
brings me to the sad part of my stor3^ 

"We Virginians are in the habit of denouncing New 
England puritanism ; unaware, seemingly, that Vir- 
ginia numbers among her people thousands of puri- 
tans." 

Alice looked up, but said nothing. 

"And how could it have been otherwise? Are not 
we, equally with the New Englanders, English? But, 
as the people who came over in the 'Mayflower' 
belonged to a different class of English societ.y from 
those w^ho sailed with Captain John Smith" (Charley 
stopped speaking for a moment, then went on), "our 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 471 

puritanism has assumed a shape so different from that 
of Massachusetts, that we have failed to recognize it. 
The aristocratic element of our colonists was so strong 
and numerous, that it gave a tone to our society which 
it has never lost. And it is because the maxim that 
an Englishman's house is his castle has, among people 
of a certain social standing, a meaning far wider than 
its merely legal one, that puritanism never became 
blatant with us. Hence, though it exists among us, — 
often in the most intense form, — we have ignored it." 

Alice shook her head, slowly: "I can't make out 
what you mean." 

" Well, then, to come to concrete examples, — Mr. 
Poythress." 

" Mr. Poythress !" 

" There lives not a more intense puritan. You have 
failed to remark it, because he is a gentleman. That 
forbids his ramming his personal convictions down other 
people's throats. He is a puritan for himself and his 
family on\y. Nothing could induce him to harbor a 
bottle of wine under his roof; but believing that every 
Virginian's house is his castle, he is equally incapable 
of resenting its presence on the Elmington table. I 
have a story about him that 3'ou have never heard. 

" Years ago, he gave up the use of liquors of all kinds. 
For some time, however, his guests were as liberally 
supplied as ever. But at last he gave a dinner at 
which only his rarest and most costly wines were 
brought on the table ; so that some of the gentlemen 
even remonstrated at his pouring out, like water, 
Madeira that his father had imported. What was the 
gastronomic horror of these gentlemen to learn, a few 
days afterwards, that he had caused every barrel in his 
cellar to be rolled out on his lawn, where, with an axe 
in his own hands, he staved in the head of every one. 
From that day to this there has not been a gill of wine 
or brandy in his house. Yet, to mention the ' Maine 
liquor law' to him is to shake a red flag in the face of 
a bull. His aversion to drinking is great ; but his love 
of personal liberty is greater. 

" Again, would it surprise you to learn that, not so 



472 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

very many years ago, Mr. Poythress favored freeing 
our slaves ?" 

"Mr. Poythress an abolitionist!" cried Alice, in 
horrified amazement. 

" No," replied Charley, smiling, " ho was nothing of 
the kind. He was an emancipationist." 

" I fail to see the difference." 

" They are about as much alike as chalk and cheese. 
The Virginia emancipationists, of whom a considerable 
and growing party existed at the time of which I speak, 
favored the gradual manumission of their own slaves. 
An abolitionist is for freeing some one else's. Mr. 
Poythress quietly spilt his own valuable wine on his 
lawn. Had he been an abolitionist, he would have 
headed a mob to burst the barrels of his neighbors." 

" Mr. Poythress an emancipationist, — well !" 

" I don't wonder at your surprise ; for he is now the 
most ardent advocate of slavery that I know. He 
positivel}^ pities all those benighted countries where it 
does not exist. The abolitionists have converted an 
enthusiastic apostle of emancipation into an ardent 
pro-slavery champion ; so infuriated is he that the 
JSTorthern people are unwilling for us to get rid of 
slavery as they did, and as the nations of Europe have 
done, — graduall}^, and without foreign interference; 
and a man who once looked upon the institution as a 
blot upon our civilization, now regards it as its crown 
of glory. 

'• I have given you these details that you may 
thoroughly understand what kind of a man Theodoric's 
father was. He was, in fact, a puritan in every fibre 
of his soul. He looked upon the world as a dark vallej^, 
through which we had to pass on our way to a better ; 
and it seemed to him that any hilarity on the part of 
us poor wayfarers smacked of frivolity, to use the 
mildest term. Dancing he never allowed under his 
roof, and secular music he rated as a snare for the feet 
of the unwary. Therefore he shook his head with un- 
affected uneasiness when he discovered in Theodoric, 
at a very early age, a passionate love for this half- 
wicked form of noise. And so, when, year after year, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 473 

as Theodoric's birthday came round, and the boy, 
when asked what he wanted, always answered, a fiddle' 
his father put his foot down. At last, on his thirteenth 
birthday, a compromise was effected. Theodoric got 
a flute ; an instrument which Mr. Poythress allowed to 
be as nearly harmless as any could be ; at least to the 
performer. I had been piping away on one for a year, 
but he soon surpassed me. His progress pleased his 
mother, from whom, in fact, he had inherited his love 
for music ; but his father looked upon the time spent 
practising as wasted. Conscious, therefore, that his 
flute annoyed his father, he hit upon a plan to give him 
as little of it as possible. 

"In a little clump of trees, about a quarter of a mile 
from the house, he constructed a music-desk against 
an old tree; and thither he repaired, on all fair after- 
noons, and played to his heart's content, surrounded by 
an admiring audience of a dozen or so dusky adherents. 
" It was this harmless flute that brought on the catas- 
trophe that I shall presently relate. 

'•Mr. Poythress's religion, I need hardly tell you, 
was of the most sombre character. (I say was; for he 
is much changed since those days.) It is singular how 
extremes meet in everything. Puritanism among the 
Protestants, and asceticism in the Catholic Church, 
each seek, by making a hell of this world, to win 
heaven in the next. I have said that Theodoric fre- 
quently spent Saturday with me. He was never allowed 
to be absent .from home on Sunday; and month by 
month, and year by year, as he grew older, those Sun- 
days grew more and more intolerable to him. It was 
a firm hand that crammed religion down his throat, 
and, as a child, he was, if wretched, unresisting. But 
Theodoric was his fiither's own son. He too loved 
personal liberty. To be brief, the time came when he 
hated the very name of religion ; and, when we were 
about thirteen years old, he often shocked me by his 
fierce irreverence. And, unfortunately, his parents had 
no suspicion of what was going on in his mind. His 
love for his mother, equally with his awe of his father, 
sealed his lips. 

40* 



474 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" There are those whose discontent is like damp pow- 
der burning. It sputters, flashes, smokes, but does not 
explode. But with Theodoric, everything was sudden, 
unexpected, violent. He had immense self-control; 
but it was that of a boiler, that at one moment is pro- 
pelling a steamer, an instant later has shattered it. 
There was an element of the irrevocable and the irrep- 
arable in all that he did. 

" It was, as I have said, the hard, relentless Sabbata- 
rianism of Mr. Pojnhress that bore hardest upon his 
son. And, when you think of it, what a curse Sabba- 
tarianism has been to the world ! How the Protestants 
of England and America ever managed to ingraft it 
upon Christianity I could never understand : for not 
only is it without trace of authorit}^ in the New Testa- 
ment, but the very founder of our religion never lost 
an opportunity of striking it a blow. And I can't help 
thinking, sometimes, that when he said, Suffer little 
children to come unto m^, he said it in pity of their 
tortures on this one long, dreary day in every week. 
But I am getting away from my story. 

" One Sunday — it was the first after Theodoric's four- 
teenth birthday — he complained of headache. He did 
not ask to be excused from going to church; but the 
day was warm, and the road long and dusty, and his 
mother begged him off; and the family coach went off 
without him. The party had gone but a few miles, 
when they learned that owing to the illness of the pas- 
tor there would be no service that day. So they turned 
about. 

"At last, hoofs and wheels ploughing noiselessly 
through the heavy sand, they approached the little 
clump of trees which we have mentioned. Suddenly 
an anxious, pained look came into Mrs. Poythress's 
face. Mr. Poythress put his hand to his ear and listened. 
An angry flush overspread his countenance. 

" ' Stop !' cried he to the coachman. 

" There could be no doubt about it : it was Theodoric's 
flute, and — shades of John Knox! — plaj'ing a jig. 

" Mr. Poythress opened the door with a quick push and 
stepped out. ' Go on to the house,' said he to the driver. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 475 

" A moment later, the carriage turned a corner of the 
little wood, and Mrs. Pojthress saw her boy, seated 
upon a log, playing away, while in front of him a 
negro lad, of about his age, was dancing for dear life. 
A gang of happy urchins stood around them with open 
mouths. Mr. Poythress was striding down upon the 
l)arty unperceived. 

" The off horse, annoyed by the dust, gave a snort. 
'' One glance was enough for the audience ; and panic- 
stricken, they w^ere off in an instant, like a covey of 
partridges. 

"The musician and the dancer had not heard the 
horse, and followed, for an instant, with puzzled looks, 
the backs of the fugitive sinners. 

"When Theodoric saw his father bearing rapidly 
down upon him, he rose from his rustic seat and stood, 
with downcast look and pale face, awaiting his ap- 
proach. The dancer turned to run. 
"'Stop, sir!" 

"The father stood towering above the son, shakino- 
from head to foot. ^ 

" ' Give me that flute, sir !' And seizing it, he broke it 
into a dozen pieces against the log. 

" The boy stood perfectly still, with his arms han^ring 
by his side and his head bowed. ° ' 

"'You are silent! I am glad that you have some 
sense of shame, at any rate! To think that a son of 
mine should do such a thing! When I am done with 
you, you will know better for the future, I promise 
you.' And cutting a branch from a neighboring tree, 
he began to trim it. 'And not content with desecrat- 
ing the day yourself, you must needs teach my servants 
to do so. How often have I not told you that we 
were responsible for their souls?' 

"'Lor', mahrster,' chattered the terrified dancer 
*Marse The., he didn't ax me to dance, 'fo' Gaud he 
didn't. I was jess a-passin' by, an' I hear de music, 
and somehownuther de debbil he jump into my heel! 
'Twant Marse The., 'twas me; leastwise de old debbil 
he would't lemme hold my foot on de groun', and so I 
jess sort o' give one or two backsteps, an' cut two or 



476 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

three little pigeon-wings, jess as I was a-passin' by 
like.' 

" ' Yery well, I shan't pass you by.' 

"'Yes, mahrster, but I didn't fling down de steps 
keen, like 'twas Sad'day night, 'deed I didn't, mahrster; 
and I Avas jess a-sayin' as how Marse The. didn't ax 
me ; de ole debbil, he — ' 

"'Shut up, sir!' 

"'Yes, mahrster!' 

"Theodoric gave a quick, grateful glance at his 
brother sinner. 

" Although he was without coat or vest, — for the day 
was warm, — he did not wince when the blows fell 
heavy and fast upon his shoulders. At last his father 
desisted, and turned to the negro lad. 

"Mr. Poythress had never, in the memory of this 
boy, punished one of his servants ; but seeing that this 
precedent was in a fair way of being reversed in his 
case, he began to plead for mercy with all the volubility 
of untutored eloquence. Meantime, he found extreme 
difficulty in removing his coat ; for his heart was not 
in the work ; and before he got off the second sleeve 
he had pledged himself nebber to do so no mo' in a 
dozen keys. ^ 

" Theodoric stepped between his father and the culprit. 

" ' I take all the blame on myself If there is to be 
any more flogging, give it to me.' 

" His father pushed him violently aside, and aimed a 
stroke at the j^oung negro ; but Theodoric sprang in 
front of him and received the descending rod upon his 
shoulders. 

" Was this magnanimity ? or was it not rebellion, 
rather ? 

" ' Do you presume to dictate to me ?' 

" 'I do not. I simply protest against an injustice.' 

" These were not the words of a boy, nor was the 
look a boy's look ; but his father, blinded by the odium 
theologicum, could not see that a man's spirit shone in 
those dark, kindling eyes. 

"'How dare you!' said the father, seizing him by 
the arm. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 477 

"The boy held his ground. 

" This resistance maddened Mr. Poythress, and the 
rod came down with a sounding whack. It was one 
blow too many! 

" Instantly the boy tossed back his head, and folding 
his arms, met his father's angry look with one of calm 
ferocity. 

"The look of an Indian at the stake, defying his 
enemies ! 

" The blows came thick and heavy. Not a muscle 
moved ; while the lad who stood behind him writhed 
with an agony that was half fear, half sympathy. At 
last he could endure it no longer. Coming forward, 
he laid his hand, timidly, on his .master's arm. 

" ' He nuvver ax me to dance, mahrster, 'deed he 
nuvver! For de love o' Gaud let Marse The. 'lone, 
an' gimme my shear! My back tougher'n his'n, heap 
tougher!' 

" His master pushed him aside, but the lad came for- 
ward again, this time grasping the terrible right arm. 

" ' Have mussy, mahrster, have mussy ! Stop jess one 
minute and look at Marse The. back, — he shirt soakin' 
wid blood !' 

"At these words Mr. Poythress came to himself. 
' Take your coat and vest and follow me to the house, 
sir,' said he. 

" They found Mrs. Poythress pacing nervously up 
and down the front porch. 

" ' He will not play any more jigs on Sunday, that I 
promise you. Gro to your room, sir, and do not leave 
it again to-day.' 

" The mother, divining what had happened, said 
nothing; but her eyes filled witb tears. The boy 
turned his face aside, and his lips twitched as he passed 
her, on his way into the house. Just as he entered the 
door, she gave a cry of horror and sprang forward ; 
and though the boy struggled hard to free himself, she 
dragged him back upon the porch. 

" ' What is this, Mr. Poythress? What do you mean, 
sir?' she almost shrieked. 

" Every family must have a head ; and Mr. Poy- 



478 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

thress was the head of his. Few women could have 
stood up long against his firm will and his clear-cut, 
vigorous convictions. At any rate, acquiescence in 
whatever he thought and did had become a second 
nature with his gentle wife; Avho had come to look 
upon him as a model of wisdom, virtue, and piety. 
She had even reached the point, by degrees, of heartily 
accepting his various isms ; and though she sometimes 
Avinced under the aastere puritanism that marked the 
restrictions he imposed upon their boy, she never 
doubted that it was all for the best. Very well, she 
would end by saying, I suppose you are right. There 
were no disputes, — hardly any discussions under the 
Oakhurst roof. 

" Imagine, therefore, the scene, when this soft-eyed 
woman, dragging her son up to his father, pointed to 
his bloody back with quivering finger and a face on 
fire with eloquent indignation ! 

" ' Were you mad ? What fiend possessed you ? And 
sw^Aason! Merciful Father,' she cried, with clasped 
hands, ' what have I done, that I should see such a 
sight as this! Come,' said she; and taking her son's 
arm, she hurried him to his room, leaving Mr. Poy- 
thress speechless and stunned ; as well by shame as by 
the suddenness of her passionate invective. 

"There she cut the shirt from his back, and after 
washing away the blood, helped him to dress. 'Now 
lie down,' said she. 

"He did as he was bidden; obeying her, mechanic- 
ally, in all things. But he spoke not a single word. 

" She left the room and came back, an hour after- 
wards. His position was not changed in the least. 
Even his eyes were still staring straight in front of 
him, just as when she left the room. She said, after- 
wards, that there was no anger in his look, but dead 
despair only. When she asked if he would come down 
to dinner, there was a change. He gave her one 
searching glance of amazement, then fixed his eyes on 
the wall again. At supper-time he came down-stairs, 
but passed by the dining-room door without stopping. 
His mother called to him, but he did not seem to hear. 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 479 

He returned in half an hour, and went to his room. 
He had gone, as she afterwards learned, to the cabin 
of the negro lad, and called him out. 'You stood by 
me to-day,' said he. ' I have come to thank you. I 
shan't forget it, that's all.' And he wrung his hand and 
returned to the house. 

"At eleven his mother found him lying on his bed, 
dressed. ' Get up, my darling, and undress yourself 
and go to bed.' 

"He rose, and she threw her arms around him. 

"Presently, releasing himself, gently, from her em- 
brace, he placed his hands upon her shoulders, and hold- 
ing her at arm's length, gave her one long look of un- 
approachable tenderness ; then suddenly clasping her 
in his arms, and covering her face with devouring 
kisses, he released her. 

" ' Good-night, my precious boy !' 

"He made no reply; and she had hardly begun to 
descend the stairs before she jieard the key turn in the 
lock. 

" The poor mother could not sleep. At three o'clock 
she had not closed her eyes. She rose and stole up- 
stairs. His door stood open. She ran, breathless, into 
the room. 

"A flood of moonlight lay upon his bed. The bed 
was empty. Her bo}^ was gone ! 

" To this day she has never been able to learn his 
fate." 

"How terrible!" 

" And now you see why I was so agitated at the 
christening of our boy, and why I looked so grim, as 
you said. I was determined, at all hazards, to name 
him Theodoric. But I did not know how Mr. Poy- 
thress would take it. I was delighted when I saw that 
his heart was touched by my tribute to his son." 

" Yesterday and to-day you have been tried severely. 
Go to bed and get some sleep." 

"I will." 

" Would you mind letting me read, now, the Don's 
letter?" 

Charley bent his head in thought for a while. " Yes," 



480 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

said he, drawing the letter from his pocket, "you ma^ 
read it." And handing it to her, he left the room. 
With trembling fingers she opened it, and read ae 

follows : 

" Taylor's Springs, Tuesday. 

"My beloved Charley: 

" It wrings my heart to have to tell you, but I feai 
it is all over with me. For several days I have been 
growing consciously weaker, and just now I overheard 
the surgeon say to my nurse that I could not live a 
week. Come to me, if you can with prudence. It 
would not be so lonely, dying, with my hand clasped 
in yours. And oh ! if she could come too ; but with- 
out knowing to whom ; I insist on that. Tell her (1 
leave the time to 3^ou) — tell her, that when she follows 
after, she will find me sitting without the Golden Grate, 
waiting — waiting to ask forgiveness, and bid her fare- 
well, there — or — it may be — to enter therein, hand in 
hand with her — perhaps — for I have loved much. 

" Come to me, friend of friends — if you can — but if 
not — farewell, farewell — and may God bless you and 
your Alice ! 

"Dory." 

"When Charley returned, his wife sprang to meet 
him. 

"And 'Dory' means—?" 
" Yes," said Charley. 



CHAPTER LXXVIII. 

They talked far into the night. What he told her 
of scenes already described in this book it is needless 
to repeat. But he gave her some other details which 
may interest the reader. 

" I felt strongly drawn toward him while I nursed 
him in this very house, four years ago. There was 
nothing supernatural about that. I suppose I liked him 
because I liked him, just as I had done as a boy. No, 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 481 

I had not the least suspicion who he was at first; and 
when, finally, I had read his secret, I had no intention 
of letting him know that he was discovered; but I was 
betrayed into doing so on the occasion of the death of 
old Ponto. We talked all that night, and he gave me 
a sketch of his history." 

That sketch, supplemented by additional details that 
he had afterwards, from time to time, given Charley, 
would fill a volume. For our purposes, it is only 
necessary to say that his life, for some time after he 
left his home, was one of many hardships and vicis- 
situdes. These came to a sudden end. 

He had found his way to New York, and was pick- 
ing up precarious pennies by playing the flute in beer- 
saloons, when he had the good fortune to touch the 
heart of an old man by the pathos of his " Home, 
Sweet Home." This old man was, as it turned out, of 
humble birth, and had amassed and retired on a snug 
little fortune. He was a Bostonian, yet deficient in 
culture, as was clear ; for, though abundantly able to 
pay for champagne, he was drinking beer. He had lost 
an only son j^ears before, who, had he lived, would 
have been of about Theodoric's age ; and when he saw 
a tear glisten in the boy's eye as he played (it was his 
own kind, sympathetic look that had evoked it, — be- 
sides, the boy had not tasted food that day), he stealthily 
slipped two half-dollars into his hand. The boy looked 
at the money, looked at the man ; then plunged through 
the door of the saloon into the street. The look was 
the only thanks the old man got, but he felt that that 
was enough. He followed him and found him standing 
in the shadow of a booth ; and when he laid his hand 
upon his shoulder, the boy began to sob. 

Hunger is king. The pampered pug sniffs, without 
emotion, boned turkey on a silver dish ; a gaunt street- 
cur whines over a proffered crust. 

That very night his new friend rigged him out in a 
new suit, and telegraphed his wife that he had found 
a boy for her. They reached Boston next day. That 
night a family consultation was held between the old 
couple; and next morning, after breakfast, they an- 
V /• 41 



482 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

nounced to Theodoric that they were to set out, in two 
days, for Europe, where they expected to travel for 
several years. The}^ were in comfortable circumstances, 
they told him, but very lonely since the loss of their 
son. Would he go with them ? If he did not lil^e them, 
they would send him back to America ; if he did, they 
would adopt him as their son. Theodoric, though his 
pride revolted, was so eager to put the ocean between 
himself and his former home, that he accepted their 
offer. 

Gratitude being a strong trait in his character, he 
soon grew deeply attached to his benefactors, notwith- 
standing their lack of exterior polish. They idolized 
him. They were both, especially his adopted mother, 
particularly proud of his strikingly aristocratic air. 
Accordingly, they lavished money upon him, and con- 
stantly scolded him because he could not be induced to 
spend it. They were made happy, one day, by his re- 
questing permission to employ a violin master. It was 
the first favor, involving money, that he had ever asked. 

He had declined, from the first, to reveal his name. 
I^or did they press him, feeling that if that were known, 
it might lead to their losing him. So he took theirs, — 
a name with which all English-speaking people are 
familiar; christening himself John, to the deep chagrin 
of Mrs. S., who had set her heart on Ecginald de 
Courcy. 

And philosophers, who saw the trio, explained that 
it no longer, in these days of steam and telegraphs 
and wide travel, took three generations to make a 
gentleman. 

The tour in Europe resulted in permanent residence 
across the water. At the end of three years, the party 
had returned to Boston, but the old people found that 
such acquaintances as they had there were no longer 
to their taste. At any rate, their society was not good 
enough, to their thinking, for John, who, they were glad 
to believe, was sprung from Virginia's bluest blood. So 
they shook the dust of America from their feet. 

In 1858 his kind adopted mother died in Paris, — his 
father a year later, in London; and Theodoric found 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 433 

himself residuary lenratee in the sum of nearly one 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars (twenty-seven 
thousand pounds). 

In the midst of all this prosperity, Theodoric had 
not been happy. At times the thought of his own sor- 
rowing mother greatly troubled him. And when he 
found himself again alone in the world, this feelino- 
came over him with redoubled force. Remorse, at lasf 
growing stronger and stronger, gave him no rest' 
travel brought him no alleviation; and finally his 
longing for home becoming irresistible, he took passac^e 
for America, and found himself, two weeks later strotl- 
ing through the streets of Richmond, with no verv 
definite plans as to how he should make himself known 
to his family. It was on the very day of his arrival 
that he encountered little Laura, and discovered that 
she was his sister. 

" What prevented him from revealing himself while 
he was m Leicester," said Charley, " was the approach 
ot the war. He would wait till peace came. His 
mother had already lost him once, he said. Once he 
was on the very verge of betraying himself It was 
when you so deeply agitated him by unconsciously 
opening his eyes to the fact that, though he knew that 
Lucy was his sister, she did not. Don't you remem- 
ber?" 

"Remember!" 



* * * * * 



* * * * 



********* 
"And so you are going to escort Mrs. Poythress to 
Harrisonburg and Taylor's Springs to-morrow morn- 
ing? You are not strong enough for such a journey • 
but now that I know all, I too, say go. Are you goinc^ 
to tell his mother who he is?" ^ ^ o 

''No; he has expressly forbidden that. I am to 
choose my time, hereafter." 

" I think it would be cruel ever to 'tell her. To lose 
such a son twice! No, let the secret remain with vou 
and me forever." *^ 

" It will be unavoidable." 

Alice looked up. 



484 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

"You see, he has made a will, of which I havo 
possession ; and as, after certain legacies are deducted, 
the residue of his estate goes to his father and his 
mother, in equal shares — " 

"His father?" 

" Yes. I found no difficulty in convincing him that 
his resentment against his father was unjust, seeing 
that he had punished him from a sense of duty. The 
influence that I have over him has always surprised 
me." 

" Why could you not make him forgive Mary ?" 

" I didn't try. A man has but one father ; but as for 
sweethearts, there are as good fish in the sea as — " 

"What!" 

" Well, except one^ 

"Ah!" 

"Besides, Mary opened an old wound. Bigotry, as 
he deemed it, had wrecked his life once, already. I 
suspect that he is very bitter against her." 

"How sad that he should be so implacable in his 
wrath !" 

"He is equally as 'implacable' in his gratitude. 
Would you believe it ? He directs that the freedom 
of the lad who ' stood by him' be bought, and a hun- 
dred dollars counted into his hand besides. By the 
way, I forgot to mention that this lad is none other 
than my man Sam, who passed into the possession of 
our family, by exchange, years ago. He, you remem- 
ber, when you and I were sitting in the Argo — a-May- 
ing— " 



CHAPTER LXXIX. 

On the piazza of a house in Harrisonburg sat two 
young surgeons. One of them was on duty there ; 
the other had driven in from Taylor's Springs to pro- 
cure supplies, and his ambulance-wagon stood in front 
of the door. 

"Well," said the visitor, rising, "I must hurry back." 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 485 

" Any serious cases ?" 

"Yes; one more than serious. Captain Smith — gal- 
lant fellow — pity !" 

" Ah, indeed. Poor fellow, — I feared so. He stopped 
here for an hour or so, then persisted, acjainst my re- 
monstrances, in going out to Taylor's. Well, good-by. 
Drop in whenever you are in town." 

" Thank you, I will. Good-day." 

"Doctor! doctor!" 

The voice was quick and nervous, and the young 
surgeon hurried to the open window. "What*^can I 
do for you, Miss Eolfe ?" 

" Ask your friend to wait one moment," said she, as 
she hastil}^ tied her bonnet-strings ; " I want to go to 
Taylor's." And running to a little closet, she drew forth 
a shawl. 

The doctor had hardly had time to deliver the mes- 
sage before Mary was on the piazza. " Can you give 
me a seat in your wagon ?" 

" Certainly," said the surgeon, lifting his cap. 

He was proud to have so pretty a woman grace his 
equipage, and he looked forward to a pleasant chat 
along the road ; but he soon discovered that, though 
she made an effort to appear interested, she did not 
hear what he said. And so he gave over his effort to 
entertain her, and they drove forward in a silence that 
was hardly broken till the driver turned out of the 
Port Republic Road. 

"Are we almost there?" 

" It is less than a mile from here. We shall be there 
in a few minutes." 

She gave a slight shiver. 

"Have you any friends there, among the wounded?" 

" Yes — no — that is, he is not exactly a friend of mine. 
He is a friend of some very dear friends of mine, who 
would like to know how he is." 

" Oh, I see. I am surgeon in charge; may I ask the 
name?" 

" Captain Smith.'* 

"Captain Smith?" 

"Yes, of the Stonewall skirmishers." 
41* 



486 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" Oh, yes. I was speaking of him, to-day, in Har- 
risonburg." 

"Is his wound dangerous?" 

*' He was shot through the right lung." 

"Are such wounds very dangerous? I mean, are 
they necessarily fatal ?" 

" No, not always." 

Then there was silence for a hundred yards. Sud- 
denly she asked, in a low voice, " Do you think there 
is any hope ?" 

The surgeon was silent for a little while. " I cannot 
give you much encouragement," he said, at last. 

She did not speak again till the wagon stopped in 
front of the farm-house, which at that time constituted, 
with the usual out-buildings, Taylor's Springs. It has 
since been added to, and the name changed to Massa- 
netta. Then, as now, the waters of the beautiful, bub- 
bling spring below the house, at the foot of the hill, 
enjoyed a high repute as a potent specific in cases of 
malarial trouble ; and a military sanitarium had been 
established there, the tents of which dotted the little 
valley. 

" The house, as you see," said the surgeon, as they 
descended the slope from the road to the front door, 
"is too small for a hospital; so the men are under 
canvas. Your friend, however, — I mean your friends' 
friend, — is in the house. It is right to warn you that 
you will find him much changed. Or did I understand 
you to say that you had never met him ?" 

" I knew him once, — years ago." 

" Walk in," said he, opening the door ; but she had 
already dropped into a chair that stood upon the 
porch. " Ah, you are tired," said he. " Let me bring 
you a glass of water. No ? Is there anything that I 
can do for you ?" 

She shook her head, lifting her eyes, for a moment, 
to his. That moment was enough, — he read them ; " I 
will leave you here for a little while, — till you get 
rested." 

She bowed her head in silent acquiescence. 

Three or four convalescent solders who sat on the 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 487 

porch looked at her pale face, and then at each other ; 
and they stole away, one by one, making as little noise 
as they could with their heavy brogans. 

If a man be a man, he is not far from being a gentle- 
man. 

And Mary was alone with her anguish. 

Two or three times the surgeon stole to the door, 
glanced at the bowed, motionless figure, and as often 
retired within the house. At last she beckoned him 
to her side. 

"I am rested now," she said. "How is he?" 

" About the same." 

"Can I see him?" 

" Yes ; walk in. One moment." And stepping to 
the second door on the right-hand side of the hall, he 
opened it and beckoned. A soldier came out into the 
hall. 

" Shelton," said he, " you can stroll around for a 
while ; when I want you I will call you. This wa}^" 
And he bowed Mary into the room and closed the door 
softly behind her. 

"Poor girl! poor girl!" said he, shaking his head; 
and he left the hall. 



CHAPTER LXXX. 

For a moment Mary stood with downcast eyes ; then, 
looking up, gave a start. 

" Oh — I beg your pardon I I was told I should find 
Captain Smith in this room," said she, making for the 
door. 

Just then the evening sun, which was slowly sink- 
ing in the west, burst from behind a cloud, and poured 
a stream of light in the room. She looked again. A 
clean-shaven face of chiselled marble, as clear-cut and as 
pale. Could it be he ? 

" I am Captain Smith — or was — " 

" I did not know you without your beard." 



488 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

" The doctor had it taken off to get at the wound in 
my cheek." 

" I can hardly believe you are the same person. Eut 
for your eyes, I — They tell me you are the same. I had 
hoped — " 

Mar}^ sank into a chair. 

" I beg your pardon. In my surprise, I forgot the 
courtesy due a lady." 

" I am not come as a lady, but as a woman. Turn 
away your eyes if you will ; but hear me. Why do 
you hate me so? What have I done? You loved me 
once. At least you told me so ; and as for myself — 
but I shall not trouble 3'ou with that. We plighted 
our faith. I broke my word, I aeknowledsje that. But 
do you deny the claims of conscience ? Not if jon are 
the man you have always seemed. Did it cost me 
nothing? It broke my heart, and — you-ou — know-ow- 
ow — it. You need not sneer! Alice knows it, and my 
mother, too, if you do not know — or care. Look at 
me, and remember the fresh-hearted young girl you 
knew four j^ears ago — and told her — you would — love 
her — al-al-al-always !" 

Mary covered her face with her hands, and the tears 
streamed down her cheeks, but with a supreme effort 
she suppressed her sobs. 

The captain of the Myrmidons was silent. 

At last, Mary, drying her eyes, arose, tottering, from 
her seat. 

" And so I have come in vain ! Once before I hum- 
bled myself in the dust before you — and you spurned 
me—" 

The captain shook his head wearily. 

"Yes, spurned me, and in the presence of others; so 
that even that poor dying man found it in his heart to 
pity me. And j^ou, too, are dying, yet have not the 
mercy of a stranger and an enemy. You bade me read 
Homer, and taught me to admire Achilles, j^et even 
his flinty heart was melted by the tears of Priam." 

The adamantine lips trembled. 

" I have read the passage again and again, and won- 
dered how you, as brave in battle, could be so much 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 489 

more pitiless than he. And Priam was a man, I a 
woman ; Priam was his enemy, while I — " 

A slight tremor shook his frame. 

" At least, I am not that !" 

She bowed her head for a moment ; then, lifting her 
clasped hands and impassioned and despairing eyes to 
heaven : 

"Merciful Father, have I not suffered enough! Must 
it be that from this time forth I shall know no peace, — 
haunted forever by the cold glitter of those implacabl<^ 
eyes, that were once — " 

" Mary !" 

She started. Had she heard aright ? 

" Mary, my beloved !" 

She gave two cries; for she had heard — and she 
saw — one of exultant joy, the other of frenzied de- 
spair. 

Found — and lost ! 

Falling upon her knees by the bedside, she buried 
her face in her hands. 

He laid his hand upon her head. 

Then the great sobs, long pent up, burst forth, — 

" Mary !" 

His words were too precious to be lost, and she mas- 
tered herself to listen. 

"Mary, I have been a monster!'* 

She seized his hand. 

" Can you ever forgive me?" 

She covered it with tearful kisses. 

" I don't deserve this ; but oh, how I have loved you 
all these years !" 

" Oh, don't tell me that, don't tell me that!" And a 
moan burst forth from her very heart. 

" I am too weak to talk. Charley will tell you why 
I was so bitter. He knows all. Ask him." 

She drew up a chair, and, sitting beside him, tried to 
smile, as she stroked back the chestnut hair from his 
forehead. 

" Wonderful !" said she. 

He looked up. 

" I wish Lucy could see you without your beard, you 



490 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

are so much like her. And Edmund, too. Wonder- 
ful !" repeated she, drawing back for a better look. 
"And Mr. Pojthress, too! Father and son were never 
more alike. Look !" And she handed him a little 
broken mirror that hung upon the wall. 

She looked at him to see what he thought. And a 
thrill of terror shot through her heart. She had nursed 
men before who had been shot through the lungs. She 
pressed her handkerchief to his lips. 

It was soaked with blood. 

The door opened softly. " A lady and a gentleman 
from Eichmond," said the surgeon. "Will you see 
them now? Yes?" 

Charley entered first. As soon as she saw him Mary 
threw herself upon his breast, and hung upon his neck 
with convulsive, half-suppressed sobs, then greeted 
Mrs. Poythress in the same way. Then she ran back 
to Charley. "He has forgiven me!" 

"No, Charley; she has forgiven me. And you came! 
I knew you would. And she, too !" 

Mrs. Poythress, sitting on the edge of the bed, held 
one of his hands, Charley the other. Mary sat stroking 
back the chestnut hair. The room was dark; for a 
little cloud floated across the face of the sun, whose 
lower edge was just kissing the rim of the hill that 
rises between Massanetta and the west. 

"How is the baby?" asked he, with a faint smile, 
and gently pressing Charley's hand. " What did — 
Alice — name him?" 

" Alice left that to me. He was christened — Theo- 
doric." 

" True as steel ! I die happy ! Charley — my Mary 
has — forgiven me my selfish anger. If there is any 
other person — that I have wronged — tell her — my last 
breath—" 

The cloud passed on, and the last soft rays of that 
setting October sun flashed upon his pallid face. 

Mrs. Poythress sprang to her feet. Bending over 
him with clasped hands, she poured upon him one long 
look of passionate interrogation. 

He tried to speak. His eyes glanced from face to 



THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 491 

face, as though beseeching help. Mrs. Poythress turned 
to Charley. He stood with bis eyes fixed upon the 
floor. She sprang in front of him, and placing a hand 
upon either shoulder, and drawing him close to her, 
with wide-staring, eager eyes, that would wring an 
answer from him, looked into his : 

"Charley?" 

"Yes," said be. 

She turned to the bed. 

He had heard; and an ineffable tenderness had come 
into his face, softening, sweeping away, with the rush 
of unspeakable love, the hard lines that years of suf- 
fering had wrought. 'Twas a boy's face once more — 
'twas Edmund's — 'twas — ? 

She stood before him Avith outstretched arms, eager 
with certainty, — held motionless by a slender thread 
of doubt. 

He tried to speak. And again — 

At last, with one supreme effort, and borne upon his 
last breath, a murmured word broke the stillness of the 
room. One little word, — but that the sweetest, tender- 
est, that tongue of man can utter, — 

"Mother!'' 

" My Dory !" and she fell upon his neck. And the 
snowy hair and the chestnut, intermingled, lay, motion- 
less, on one pillow! 

And which of the two shall we pity ? 

He seemed to hear that name. At any rate, a beam- 
ing look — a serenely exultant smile — 

I remember hurrying, once, to the roar of a battle 
which was over before our command reached the field. 
The combatants were gone. The wounded, even, had 
been removed. Only the Silent lay there, upon their 
gory bed. Wandering a little way from the road, 
while our troops halted, I saw a fair young boy (he was 
not over sixteen years of age) seated upon the ground, 
and leaning back against a young white oak, with his 
rifle across his lap. Struck with his rare beauty, I 
drew nearer. 

The boy sat still. 

I spoke to him. 



492 THE STORY OF DON MIFF. 

He did not move. 

I stooped and touched his damask cheek. 

'Twas cold 1 

Kneeling in front of him, I saw a bullet-hole in his 
coat, just over his heart ! 

But, even then I could hardly believe. His head, 
thrown back, rested naturally against the tree. His 
parted lips showed two rows of pearly teeth. His up- 
lifted eyes, which seemed to have drawn their azure 
from that sky upon which they were so intently fixed, 
wide open, were lit with a seraphic smile — 

As though, peering, with his last look, into that blue 
abyss, he saw beckoning angels there I 

Such a smile illumined poor Dory's face. The heroic 
spirit had fled. The tumultuous, high-beating heart 
was still I 

And who among us all — who, at least, from whom 
the sweet bloom — the rosy hopes of youth are gone — 
who among us, knowing what life really is, would dare 
awaken its fierce throbbings again? 

And the seraphic smile lingered, lit up by the fare- 
well rays of that October sun. 

And the sun went down behind Massanetta's hill I 



THE END. 



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